A family Christmas tradition that embraced a community continues to support kids and families at 42 Country Club Blvd. in Williams Lake.
The 139 Christmas House is alight with whimsical and entertaining displays that include a penguin ice rink, an elaborate gingerbread house, a Santa tree fort, the 139 Express and a bird house collection box for the 139 Children’s Fundraising Society.
Ken and Julia Berry have been decorating their home for Christmas for 25 years—a tradition that evolved 14 years ago into a unique support for local kids and their families when they need to travel for medical treatment.
The project started with Ken and Julia and their kids, and now includes three ‘Berry’ generations when grandkids are home for the holidays.
The 139 Christmas House has raised $16,000 for local kids, and Ken Berry explained that they’re getting close to their long-time goal of $20,000.
“That first year we hoped to raise $100 but when the bird house collection box went up, we raised nearly $800—what a surprise,” he said, “and the rest is history.”
It’s a constantly evolving project, with fun new displays going up every two weeks from now until the first week of January, and with the bird house beside the sidewalk to collect donations.
“When our kids were 10 and 12 we registered with a local realtors’ Christmas lights tour and really got into it,” Berry continued. “The realtors would judge the displays and announce the winner in the Tribune. We won the first year we entered the contest.”
The family tradition of putting up creative Christmas light displays started when he was a child.
“My dad and I used to decorate the house together. My mom would come home from her job at Woodwards and we would surprise her with a lighted house when she got home,” he noted.
“We carried this on with our own kids; our son got into making log reindeer and it grew from there.”
He said that choosing to support local kids and families when they needed it the most was, really, no choice at all.
“My wife and I were both teachers, and we wanted to be able to help people having difficulties when they needed to get their kids to Vancouver for treatment. We wanted to help take some stress off them and let them just be with their kids.”
Berry already has 70 hours into the 30-thousand-light project.
He said that the lights are on every day from 5 until 11 p.m. with donations welcome in the lighted bird house beside the sidewalk.
Heart-warming highlights on the sidewalk at 42 Country Club include Christmas caroling, wedding proposals, the occasional Santa appearance and a simple social occasion where neighbours and friends stop to visit.
“Our neighbours are very understanding and supportive, tolerating the line-ups of vehicles,” Berry continued.
“They have even sent out hot chocolate to me while I’m working on the displays.
“Come and see the lights and help a child,” he said. “Stop and enjoy the moment—it’s Christmas.”