Winners of the Mercury's Christmas lights comp

If you don’t set up a massive Christmas lights display, and wonder why people do it and how they afford it, read on.

The Mackay family is relatively new to Stubbs Road, but soon after they arrived their neighbours’ enthusiasm encouraged them to get in the swing of the famous Christmas lights destination.

The Albion Park street is well known as one of the top spots in the Illawarra for Christmas lights, and Elleni Mackay said she and her husband were happy to join the festivities.

Where to see the Illawarra's best Christmas lights

Ms Mackay, a primary school teacher, has been selected as the winner of the $1000 first prize in the Illawarra Mercury’s Christmas lights competition.

She was drawn at random from those who submitted pictures of their homes via the Mercury’s iPhone app.

Her house would be known to those who visited the area as the one with the ‘‘NORTH POLE’’ signage on the lawn, one of the street’s most impressive displays.

‘‘The first year we went out and bought a few but being as expensive as they are, we didn’t really have much,’’ she said.

‘‘The first year there we just had a few – as best we could. Three sets of rope lights and one pack of icicle lights.

‘‘Then our second year we went and bought more.’’

That year, 2012, they were also catapulted into serious contention after a neighbour moved out and gifted the family his large collection of lights.

‘‘Then this year we went to the Christmas Warehouse and my husband went a bit crazy buying bigger and better things like the big North Pole sign,’’ she said.

‘‘Our son has just turned one, so we really wanted to make it special to him, now he’s at an age where he can really take it all in.’’

Now in the lead-up to Christmas, Stubbs Road is choc-a-block with visitors either strolling or doing a slow drive-by to witness the finery. Residents also deck the driveways with folding chairs and soak up the atmosphere.

Ms Mackay and her husband Nathian  like getting into the spirit of the street now.

‘‘Not all the houses participate, but it is nice to hear all the kids come out and get excited,’’ Ms Mackay said.

‘‘At first we were kinda shocked, we didn’t actually believe everyone about how big it is.

‘‘My husband worked really hard on it. He’s been doing 12, 13-hour days, then coming home and working on it for a good five or six days. 

‘‘So his hard work has really paid off.’’

For those wondering about the cost, Ms Mackay said the lights added about $120 to their power bill last year, but now many lights are made to be more energy-efficient.

‘‘And I joke with other people, we don’t really need any other lights on in the house, because the whole street glows,’’ she said.

$250 Greater Union Gift Card Winners

• Andrew Moane, Bruny Place, Shell Cove

• Bianca Starcic, Walbon Crescent, Koonawarra

• Cole Murray, Oxford Road, Dapto

• Kym Gagoski, Neave Ave, Figtree

• Jakki Warren, Stubbs Road, Albion Park

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