Christmas lights up Declan's life
THE light of love and Christmas spirit will shine brightly on Struan Crescent, come December, when Gympie's youngest ever entrant in the annual Christmas lights competition flicks the switch and takes his dedicated hobby to the next level.
Declan Elliott isn't your average 10-year-old, though he looks it.
All year, every year for the past few years, he has saved his pocket money to buy Christmas lights for the family home and garden.
He even has an older mentor, Monkland Christmas light expert Ray Doel, a veteran of the Christmas lights competition who has been happy to pass on his wisdom to his young protege.
The pair met for the first time last year and is ready for some friendly rivalry when their creative lighting arrangements go head to head in the Sunshine Mitre 10 Christmas Light Competition next month.
The best-decorated home this year will win $500, the best-decorated home (new entrant) will win $300, and the people's choice winner will take home $200.
Declan will be going all out, enlisting the help of his little sister Amelia, 8, to dress up as an angel and hand out candy canes, while Declan himself is still debating whether to don his (slightly big) Santa suit, complete with pillows to help hold the pants up.
Declan's mum Kylie said this week her son had been fascinated with Christmas lights since he was five years old. And while she was proud and supportive of his hobby, she drew the line at his proposed plans this year to decorate the roof and the towering palm trees in front of their home.
"He wanted to do the roof but I am a mean mother and won't let him," she said.
Instead of toys, books or games for Christmas, she said Declan's wish this year was for a switchboard or an alternate source of power. Solar lights were bought last year but hadn't lasted long, Kylie said.
With his savings this year, Declan has so far purchased a light-up Santa and nativity scene for the garden.
The whole family plans to attend the Boxing Day sales to snap up some bargains for next year's display.