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Tain family share the festive love with 15,000-bulb Christmas display in Easter Ross town


By Hector MacKenzie

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There are around 15,000 bulbs in John Gregory's display.
There are around 15,000 bulbs in John Gregory's display.

IT started as a simple festive family tradition back in 1997.

Over the following quarter of a century, John Gregory's Christmas lights display has become a thing of local legend in the Easter Ross royal burgh of Tain.

Involving some 15,000 bulbs, it has become a visitor attraction in its own right, putting smiles on the faces of children and the young at heart.

See also: 'And a lit crab in a creel tree' – Wester Ross Christmas tree is a real cracker

The family's Jubilee Drive home now becomes an annual beacon between the hours of 3.30pm and 8pm on weekdays and until around 9pm on weekends, weather-permitting.

It started off in 1997 as a couple of sets of lights illuminating 1 Viewfield Road in the royal burgh of Tain. John Gregory and his Dad Fergus gradually built up an impressive display year on year which gained hundreds of visitors over the festive season.

Since leaving home in 2006, the display has continued with John carrying on the tradition with his wife Dawn and two sons Andrew and Archie at their Jubilee Drive home.

His kids both love the lights and look forward year on year to seeing what new decorations emerge. Mt Gregory joked: "I have tried recruiting the help of my sons but their enthusiasm quickly disappears after untangling the third set of lights. They disappear faster than Santa goes on his sleigh!"

There are around 15,000 bulbs in John Gregory's display.
There are around 15,000 bulbs in John Gregory's display.

Asked about the logisitical challenge, he explained: "The lights take about three or four days to sort out and put up and then a further day to sort out the electrics.

"But it can be a slow process if the Highland weather is against us. I like to start off thinking there's an organisation to it, but that quickly goes out the window!

"The display changes every year where we buy more decorations in the sales as, yearly, we always have some festive casualties from the weather and general age."

Asked if he has any he is particularly fond of, he said: "One of our old favourites is a light-up ladder with two Santas on, which looks like he's climbing. It's a bit worse for wear but it's the oldest decoration we have when we first started decorating back in 1997."

Asked the inevitable question, he said: "We get asked often how much the electric bill must be. It's why so far we have avoided a smart meter for the fear of actually knowing."

The pleasure experienced by others does, however, make it all worth it. He said: "We see lots of bairns and adults alike come and see the decorations and if we do spot folk, we try to give out candy canes as a festive treat."

Local reaction is overwhelmingly positive. A typical response on social media was@ "Oh wow – this is amazing!"


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