By Lethbridge Herald on November 29, 2021.
Dale Woodard – Lethbridge Herald
For the fifth year, the Caldwells are lighting it up for a good cause.
If you were driving down Red Crow Blvd. West Sunday night, the home of Vince and Chandel Caldwell would have been hard to miss.
In fact, it was probably visible from several blocks away as the home at 126 Red Crow Blvd. West was lit up for the holiday season.
And in the spirit of the season, this light display – as it has been for the past four years – is all about giving with the Caldwells encouraging donations of food for the Lethbridge Food Bank and toys for Toys For Tots.
Given the year, this year’s goal is 2,021 pounds of food and a truck box and trailer full of toys.
With the help of the community last year, the Caldwells were able to collect over 1,500 pounds of food and a truck box full of toys.
On a windy, but very mild, Sunday night, the Caldwells flipped the switch on another season of giving and will be leaving the lights on nightly from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Jan. 7.
“This will be our fifth year doing the lights and the fourth year of the toy and food drive,” said Chandel. “How it started was Vince would be putting up the Christmas lights and people would slow down, honk, come out and talk to us and knock on the door, leave us gifts. So they would leave us chocolates and cards and things that really touched our hearts, such as letters.”
By the second year the Caldwells kicked it up a notch, taking those gifts being given to them and instead giving to the Lethbridge Food Bank and Toys For Tots.
“We decided on the Food Bank because it has always been something that’s close to Vince and I growing up,” said Chandel. “We’ve had the support of the Food Bank in our lives, so we just thought that is who we wanted to give to.”
It was the same for Toys For Tots, said Chandel.
“That’s where we got our Christmas hampers when we were kids and we think that’s really what Christmas is about, it’s about the kids.”
On the opening night of the light display, the Caldwell residence was the neighbourhood hotspot as families flocked in for photo opportunities among the lights and backdrops, while Christmas music played and cookies and hot chocolate was served.
A few motorists did a slow drive-by to check out the impressive display as well.
“We have the kid’s gingerbread house, so the kids love to play in that,” said Chandel. “This year (Vince) made new cutouts of red-nose reindeer with Bumble and Cornelius. We have the manger and Mickey’s Tree Lot, which is great for taking the background setting for photos. We have some of modern cutouts, Christmas Vacation, Christmas Story and Home Alone.
“Our garage door is actually open and he’s got glass windows with shower curtains and has a projection screen inside that projects Santa’s workshop in there.”
Putting up the entire production takes about 120 hours, said Chandel.
“We started this two weeks ago, from emptying out our trailer and putting it all (together) took about two weeks.”
Chandel credited her husband for the creation.
“Vince is the artist,” she said. “He does it all, he does all the work. But it’s really for the children and the families. It’s for moments like this, where people can walk around and take pictures and enjoy the lights.”
Donors can make drop-offs at the Caldwell’s place or at the Lethbridge Casino.
“We have a big red bin at the casino,” said Chandel. “We also have a bin right outside our house for donations. We empty the bin out at least three times a night. They can always knock on the door and drop it off.”
For an added incentive for people to donate, the Caldwells have started the Santa’s Bag giveaway consisting of gifts given by local businesses.
“If you make a donation, you put your name into this draw and you could win some gifts from local sponsors,” said Chandel.
Meanwhile, Christmas with the Caldwells continues to grow.
“This is definitely the most people we’ve ever had here,” said Chandel. “One day we would love to extend to the back yard. We’ll see how that goes.”
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