Cindy Heimlich’s house on Western is elaborately decorated with penguins - she’s putting out a donation box for visitors who stop by to donate to the Child Development Centre. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Lighting up the night for a Christmas cause

Western Avenue house carries on penguin tradition

A Western Avenue resident is carrying on a Christmas tradition in Williams Lake — decorating her yard with the Penguin Express and encouraging donations for the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre.

Cindy Heimlich first purchased the Penguin Express when Ken Barry, whose house was well known for the multitude of penguins and elaborate Christmas displays, moved away from Williams Lake.

As his house was always a popular stop for anyone viewing Christmas lights, he always had a donation box, first for the 139 Children’s Fund, and later for the Child Development Centre.

“I bought the Penguin Express for my children,” said Heimlich, “But also with the intention of carrying on Ken Barry’s penguin house. It’s part of Christmas in Williams Lake.”

She adds she was nervous the first few times she saw vehicles park outside her house. Now she encourages people to take a closer look at the decorations.

When Ken Barry retired, Mike Jones took on the mantle, and decorated his house, also taking donations for the Child Development Centre.

This year, Heimlich hopes to do the same.

“I know it’s late, we want to be considerate of Mike and all he’s done for the community.”

By the start of the weekend, Heimlich hopes to have a donation box in front of her house, where all donations will be headed to the Child Development Centre.

“We encourage families to come and look at the display,” she said.

The Penguin Express circles around a tall tree in her yard, where penguins and lights climb up into the branches to help decorate.

Over the course of five minutes on Dec. 20, at least three cars stopped by the place to take pictures and admire the glimmering display.

Heimlich plans to have the decorations up, and will be taking donations until Jan. 7.

“The Child Development Centre does such amazing things for children and families. Any support we can give to them, it’s such a giving season,” she said.

Heimlich herself works for the centre.

“I see the difference they make in families and we would hate for this support they get every Christmas to fall away.”

With so many people stopping by to look at the lights, she said she saw an opportunity to make a contribution on her own.

The Penguin Express can be seen at 1100 Western Ave.


Tara Sprickerhoff photo At least three cars in approximately five minutes stopped for the Penguin Express on Dec. 20. It’s that kind of traffic that Heimlich hopes will also give a donation to the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre.

Tara Sprickerhoff photo Penguins, penguins and more penguins! Heimlich is carrying on a Williams Lake tradition by making sure these well known Williams Lake penguins get visited every Christmas.

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