Aussie family smashes Christmas lights world record

A Canberra family has decorated their home with more than half a million Christmas lights to raise money for SIDS and Kids.

The Richards family, from Forrest, first took out the Guinness World Record for most lights in a residential property in 2011.  

  • Got a great Christmas lights display at your house? Email details to lgamble@fairfaxmedia.com.au for the Essential Kids guide to Christmas lights around Australia.
Record holder ... David Richards has installed 500,000 lights at his home.
Record holder ... David Richards has installed 500,000 lights at his home. Photo: Melissa Adams

Their 331,038-bulb effort was eclipsed a year later when 346,283 lights were powered up at a home in LaGrangeville, New York - but on Sunday, they took back the title in style, installing 502,165 multicoloured streamers, icicles, candy canes, reindeer and other candescent decorations on their property. 

''It was sort of a reason to do it again, and they didn't break it by very much,'' David Richards said. ''I thought 500,000 was a nice, round number so I decided to go all out because I may never do it again.''

Mr Richards says he and his wife Janean and their three kids installed the 502,165 multicoloured streamers, icicles, candy canes, reindeer and other candescent decorations - some more exotic, some less - to raise funds for SIDS & Kids ACT.

"The charity is very close to our heart. We lost a child and SIDS looked after us many years ago," he said.

Another motivation was providing a one-of-a-kind wedding venue for Mrs Richards' cousin Luana Marriott, who married Patrick Cormac at the Forrest house on the weekend with only the white lights turned on, creating a spectacular effect.

Setting up the lights takes enormous effort and time but Mr Richards had a lot of help this time from family and friends. 

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"I took a week off in the October school holidays, and then have worked every weekend since," he said.  

He estimates his electricity bill will go up $2500 for the month, but ActewAGL is sponsoring the lights through its Green Energy program.

Mr Richards said he was also looking to enlist more corporate sponsors to help fund-raising efforts. And he is up for the effort of his month-long display: ''It's like a party in your driveway every night.''

He says his six-year-old daughter Madelyn thinks everyone has a world record house with lights on it, and his other two kids, Caitlin, 10, and Aidan, 13, just enjoy it "a bit like me".

"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."

But SIDS and Kids is the main reason he does the time-consuming task, to raise money for the work they do.

"It was very important for us," he said.

"Anyone who has been through that sort of loss will probably tell you the worst thing that can happen to you is losing a young child."

The Richards' last effort raised $78,000 and helped pay for two part-time counsellors.

This time, though, they hope to break $100,000.

''It actually helps a lot of families who have put up with an amazing amount of grief," Mr Richards said. 

"That makes it all worthwhile to me."

The SIDS and Kids Christmas lights display will be from December 1-26 at 3 Tennyson Crescent, Forrest. Entry is via a gold coin donation.

AAP, Megan Doherty and staff writers

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