In the days leading up to Christmas 2020, the streets surrounding Tuxedo Drive have been crowded with festive pedestrians and cars full of passengers taking a look at the famous Saanich Christmas House back for an encore display amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Dec. 19, Neil Salmond and his wife Michelle flipped the switch and set their front yard aglow with string lights, music and festive decorations for the first time in two years.
After nearly 30 years, the 2017 holiday season was meant to be the last time the Salmonds set up their well-known Christmas House display at 4091 Tuxedo Dr. On New Year’s Day 2018, Salmond shut off the massive exhibit – which included towering inflatables and robotic decor – for what he thought would be the last time. He sold the decorations to Merridale Cidery in Cobble Hill and prepared for quiet Christmases to come.
However, with the ongoing pandemic, Salmond and Michelle decided to bring back their Christmas House to bring some levity to the 2020 holiday season, and the community’s response was overwhelmingly positive.
“People were real happy we did it again,” Salmond said, noting that he’s counted more than 1,000 spectators every night and that the line-ups have been backed up to Quadra Street – just like in Christmas seasons past.
He made sure to step outside for a nightly socially distanced chat with visitors, and many remembered him by name. There was lots of clapping and big smiles, Salmond said.
Per tradition, his plan is to turn off the lights on New Year’s Day, but depending on the weather, Salmond said he may leave everything up for one more weekend. That way, he can avoid taking the decorations down in the rain and people will get a few more days to take in the display.
Salmond will give back the decorations he borrowed from friends, and the rest will go into storage. While he planned for this to be a one-time-only encore, there could be another opportunity to bring back the Christmas House in the future.
The lights go on at 5 p.m. every night and shut off around 11 p.m. Visitors are asked to practice social distancing and follow pandemic guidelines.