An Australian family has reclaimed their Guinness World Record by stringing up more than half a million Christmas lights around their suburban home.
Guinness World Records official Chris Sheedy confirmed that the Richards family of Canberra set the record for Christmas lights on a residential property with 502,165 twinkling bulbs.
The family first entered the famous record book in 2001 with 331,038 multi-coloured lights. But they were trumped last year by a family in LaGrangeville, New York, who illuminated their home with 346,283 lights.
The Richards’ home has strings of lights covering 31 miles of wire in suburban Forrest and their home is now open to the public to raise money for charity.
David Richards – husband of Janean and father of Aidan, 13, Caitlin, 10, and Madelyn, 6 – said most of his neighbours supported the display. But some hadn’t spoken to him since the last record was set.
“I have always loved Christmas. Having the Christmas lights with the community coming in and sharing it is a time when you get to know people you probably should know better, I guess,” he said.
He said while he bought the lights, a local power company would donate the estimated $2,500 in electricity that would illuminate them for the next month.
He had vowed he had retired from Christmas lights competition after his 2011 record. While Richards won’t rule out a defence of his latest record, he said he would need a generator to get any more electricity for his home.
Richards said he only took on the challenge this year to “smash” last year’s record so it would stand for a long time.
This time, the number was 502,165 bulbs.
Guinness didn’t count each and every bulb. The record was authenticated with sales receipts and by counting LED bulbs spaced among the half million lights, Richards said.
The family takes donations from thousands of people who jam the neighbourhood to view the lights. Two years ago, they raised $78,000 for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and Kids ACT.
Richards and his wife, Janean, lost a child to SIDS a decade ago, he said.
Richards wouldn’t say how much he’s spent on lights, just that it’s less than the event earns for charity.
“Even my wife doesn’t know,” he said, “and if you ask her she’ll say she doesn’t want to know.”
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