A few years ago, Greg Ducharme started putting up Christmas lights one his Riverhill Farms house. His spread, at 1311 Struthadam Road, is just a short jaunt down the River Road South of Ompah (or north of the Ardoch Road).
“After awhile, we’d be sitting watching TV and noticed cars coming around the driveway to have a look,” he said.
That got him thinking.
Every year since, the display got a little bigger, people kept coming and six years ago they decided to open it to the public. This year, there are about 100,000 lights all over the property, including singing trees, magical villages and sparkling displays wherever you look.
“This has to be the biggest Christmas lights display in the riding,” said Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP Randy Hillier, who brought his grandchildren to the opening Dec. 1.
“Every year we’ve added to it,” said Ducharme. “And yes, it does seem to have a life of its own.”
This year, the display is open every night from dark until 9 p.m. from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1. On Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22, from 5-8 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in Santa’s workshop. There are also horse-drawn wagon rides and fresh hot donuts, coffee and hot chocolate at The Flamingo cafe. There’s no admission charge, but there is a modest charge for refreshments as well as donation boxes around the property which go toward supporting the display. During these special Saturday nights, it’s foot traffic only.
“We’ve added a rather large parking lot for these nights,” he said.
Many of the displays are built from recycled material from when the farm was a cattle operation.
“It’s too hard to make a living from cattle these days,” he said. “Now we’re a maple syrup operation but my family has farmed this area for generations.
“My grandmother’s farm was just over that hill.”
And he’s nowhere near done yet.
“We’ve worked on Christmas Valley,” he said. “Hopefully for next year we’ll have a frozen pond for skating and a hill where kids can slide down on inner tubes.”
Ducharme admits to “having a soft spot for Christmas,” but with a twinkle in his eye, he does offer another reason as to why he does all this.
“I was a pretty miserable kid,” he said. “I thought I might need all these lights so Santa can find me.”