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by Stephen Dafoe with video and images by Hunter Deveau
Looking like Santa Claus in his younger days, the Mercer brothers have more in common than their love of a manly beard. The two Morinville residents and their families have a great love of the Christmas season and decorating their homes for the holidays.
Older brother Chris has been doing a display for the past five years and won the Town’s Best Lights Contest for several of those years. Younger brother Kurtis has been at it for three years and took second place in this year’s event. Both are carrying on a tradition of lighting and decorating for the season that was a big part of their childhood.
Whether it’s a 14-foot tall artificial tree, a tree full of illuminated candy canes, inflatable Disney characters, or hand-painted icons from Christmas cartoons of years gone by, the Mercer homes are stopping cars in their tracks for a festive gawk at the holiday homes.
“My dad started when we were kids,” Chris Mercer said. Since my brother got his place, he’s started as well, and we’ve kind of carried it on throughout town.”
Having a little more experience, the elder Mercer has not hesitated to offer some tips. “I gave him a few pointers this year, and he actually listened and finished second. So he did okay.”
Kurtis has been appreciative of the tips. “I’d have to give him a pat on the back because he’s always had an amazing display,” he said, adding with a laugh that the two never fight about their prowess in setting up displays.
But no matter how elaborate each display gets, it does take a lot of work. Chris Mercer got started this year in October setting up his display. For brother Kurtis, it’s often right after Remembrance Day, but sometimes he starts earlier to be sure everything gets done in time for lighting up the property.
“It’s probably a good two weeks’ of work by the time the inside and outside is complete,” Chris Mercer said.
Chris’ favourite piece remains the yard’s North Pole centrepiece and some painted Disney Dalmatians hanging from the tree. Kurtis says his favourite is also his yard’s North Pole and the illuminated 14-foot tree.
But both brothers realize passersby will have their own favourites. They and their families do it for the love of Christmas and the joy of seeing people stop for a look.
“We do it for the stories, the kids,” Chris Mercer said. “Just the other day, our neighbour reached out to us on Facebook and told us how awesome our house looked,” he said. “It means a lot when you hear stuff like that.”
Kurtis has similar experiences. “I’ll be inside eating dinner or on the couch and see people driving by and slowing down to stop, and I’ve even seen people stop and just stop for a few minutes and look,” he said.
While both brothers enjoy the fact their efforts draw the community to their homes for a look, it is a different drawing together that is at the core.
“I think it’s just that it brings all our family together,” Kurtis said. “Everybody loves it.”
Chris Mercer’s home is located at 10126 93rd Street.
Kurtis Mercer’s home is located at 9919 – 92 Street.