Ken Paley doesn’t like being in the spotlight, he prefers to brighten other people’s days instead.
For the past 15 years, during the Christmas season, his home shines the brightest in the tight-knight community of Randpark Ridge, north of Johannesburg.
“We started after we were in the UK and we saw a small house having a lot of Christmas lights on,” he said.
What started with a few light features in front of his home has now grown into a production that takes more than three weeks to perfect.
“I couldn’t tell you how many globes are in here but it’s an awful lot. Myself and two guys from work have done it for the last 15 years – neither one of us are qualified electricians.”
Paley said in the beginning his family was apprehensive about bringing this “lighting tradition” to his community.
“We thought [the community] would have a problem with this sort of street activity.”
A ‘priceless’ gesture
Year after year his home draws more attention and bigger crowds.
This year on the first day the lights were lit, the occasion was celebrated with a market and a nativity play.
Every year there are drives to collect funds and donations for organisations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and homeless people in the surrounding areas.
This year, part of the fundraising was geared towards supporting a friend who was diagnosed with melanoma cancer – a form of skin cancer.
“The whole idea of giving a bit back to the community is what we believe in at the moment.”
Paley was tight-lipped about how much the lighting extravaganza cost, arguing that one can’t put a price on joy.
“In South Africa you have little activities where you can go out into the street, we have kids running up and down here. And it’s a joy to give this time of year, you can just see the sparkle in the kids eyes, you can’t put a rand value on that.”
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