Penguins are sledding. Penguins are playing hockey and watching the game. Penguins are riding in a nine-unit train. Penguins are wrapping presents and helping Santa in his tree-house workshop.
Penguins of all shapes and sizes have been frolicking around 142 Country Club Blvd. at Christmas time for the past 12 years to raise funds for the 139 Children’s Fundraising Society.
“My son Owen started it by making a hockey team of penguins in honour of the Pittsburgh Penguins and it just took off from there,” says owner Ken Berry.
Berry says Owen was only 12 when he started helping him to put up Christmas light displays. Over the years father and son have made 85 wooden penguins together.
Inspired by their efforts people have donated more than 100 stuffed penguins over the years, which have been included in the displays as they arrived.
Now grown and on his own Owen doesn’t have much time for the Christmas display these days, but Ken keeps up the tradition of setting up the 139 Christmas House each year to help raise funds for the 139 Children’s Fundraising Society.
That first year he says: “We hoped to make $100 but we made $800 and it has been growing ever since.”
Last year $1,380 was given in donations, bringing the year-to-date total to more than $14,100.
The displays at the 139 Children’s Christmas House are truly spectacular, featuring more than 30,000 lights illuminating trees, shrubs, wreaths, about a dozen reindeer, Santa, Northern Lights, large boxes wrapped in colourful paper and ribbons, wreaths and more.
Berry says he used to change the displays every week or so leading up to the new year, but after having hip replacement surgery last year he has been adding a little something each day this year to the point where the display is fully lit.
There is a little birdhouse out front where people can make their donations.
Over the years he says neighborhood children have taken an interest in the displays, sometimes bringing him hot chocolate to warm him up with while he works.