Since 1993 Roscoe Thorby has helped light up the Ponsonby community with the Franklin Road Christmas Light Show.
Like so many other beautiful things, it all started as a happy accident that just kept snowballing. One night he was hosting a dinner party when he suggested that everyone pop outside for a moment to turn on the Christmas lights.
He didn’t know what it was, but the idea seemed to resonate with people, and a year later his neighbours decided to get in on the fun as well. Before long over a hundred households had gotten involved, and today thousands of people pass through each year to visit the estimated 100 -110,000 lights.
“It amazes me that people are still coming out to see them. It’s such a simple thing, and it’s turned into something so iconic.”
When I asked if he saw it going for another 20 odd years, he laughed saying that each year he always thought it couldn’t get any bigger, but somehow it always did.
“Someday people may stop and that’s fine; there’s no obligation or pressure to keep going.”
One thing he’s adamant about though, is that the event remains a free gift for the community and doesn’t become a commercial venture.
“As soon as you start asking for money or begin charging people, you change the tone of the whole event. At the moment, it’s one of the few free things that you can do with your family at Christmas. The only money we’ve ever accepted is from the Waitemata Board, and that’s because they don’t want anything in return. We’re just one of the groups they support.”
So what keeps him going year after year?
“It’s not always easy, but when you see kids with these big smiles on their faces and all the happiness that the lights bring them, it makes it all worthwhile. It’s such an amazing feeling to think that we did this, and we’re creating memories that they’ll remember long after we’re gone. My advice for anyone who’s thinking of doing anything like this is to take a breath and do it.”
For more information about the Franklin Road Christmas Lights, please visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/franklin-rd-freemans-bay-auckland-1011-new-zealand/franklin-road-christmas-lights
And if you’d like to visit Roscoe’s website, visit www.chandeliersales.co.nz