ART DARTS: Xmas Lights

Credit: Rob McMahon

Sometimes I love campy kitsch. I love the spectacle, and I love the oddness of it. I’ve driven to the southern Oregon border to visit the world’s largest plywood frying pan, ate a Nathan’s hot dog on Coney Island and snapped a photo of a giant Paul Bunyan statue. I covered the Spice Girls reunion show.

I think Christmas is one of far too few celebrations in North America that celebrates a mix of spectacle and nostalgia—intrinsic, perhaps, to sustaining healthy, bonded communities. With this in mind, I had big plans this year to find the most extravagant display of Christmas lights in Vancouver, complete with prog-rock soundtrack and over 50,000 lights. These seasonal expressions of neighbourhood creativity raise money for a host of causes, raising funds as much as Christmas camaraderie.

The plan was to travel from the North Shore to Surrey, Baileys-spiked hot chocolate in hand, hitting various displays to view the best of the Lower Mainland. But the recent snowfall, paired with the tires on my old Lumina, scuttled that idea.

Luckily, I live around the corner from one of East Vancouver’s most beloved charitable light displays, the Trinity Street Light Competition. The decade-old event raises money for the Cottage Hospice and Harbourview Daycare. It joins a host of other displays, from Bright Lights in Stanley Park and St. Paul’s Hospital’s Lights of Hope to family-hosted displays like those at 2504 East 1st Ave.

Here are some highlights from this year’s Trinity Street display. Like much campy kitsch, initial wonder shifts, as the seemingly familiar turns creepy.

Full House

Full House

As can be expected, many of the homes feature traditional Christmas motifs: reindeer, candy canes, sleds and snow people.


Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House

Isn’t that delicious-looking? I almost took a bite out of their siding.


Nativity Scene

Renaissance Art meets Pop Art.


Fascist Snowman

Creepy Kitschy

It could have been the minus-4 degree temperature, but at this point the night got chilly. Displays blended the rosy-cheeked nostalgia of old Disney holiday cartoons with crimson reds, militaristic salutes, robotic angels and, yes, fascist snowmen (above).

On that note, I’ll leave you with this… Merry Christmas!