The big Christmas switch-on: Runton Road residents get ready to light up their homes again for charity

Bournemouth Echo: The big Christmas switch-on: Runton Road residents get ready to light up their homes again for charity The big Christmas switch-on: Runton Road residents get ready to light up their homes again for charity

The nights may be drawing in, but the December evenings will be brighter than ever in Runton Road, Branksome.

Residents in the street will be covering their homes and gardens in festive lights – just as they have done for the past 22 years.

The spectacle, which was even featured on BBC’s The One Show last year, has become gradually bigger and better, with more and more neighbours joining in the friendly competition.

It is now so widely known that busloads of OAPs along with families from Weymouth and Southampton, as well as locals, now visit every year.

Michael Philips, one of the event’s main organisers, said: “It’s not the whole road, but it’s a lot of us.

“We are at the bulbous end of a cul-de-sac, so there are half a dozen houses that light up like a Belisha beacon.

“It started when my old next door neighbour put some lights up, then the opposite neighbour tried to out-do him.”

Michael, 59, is confronted by the age-old frustration of finding the lights don’t always work when unpacked after a year in storage and admits it “costs a fortune” when his wife is sent out to buy replacements.

He said: “Every year you need a couple of new ones, so it’s £40 or £50 on lights and if my wife sees something else she likes it goes up by another £60 or £70.

“But the electricity is only about £40 for the month, so it’s worth it.”

The Runton Road residents have taken advantage of the wealth of visitors during December – they average 100 to 200 on weeknights, 800 to 1,000 a weekends and around 2,000 people on Christmas Eve – by taking donations for charity.

Last year two cheques for £1,200 were presented to Forest Holme hospice and the Youth Cancer Trust.

Michael, who works as a taxi driver, added: “Christmas Eve we’re all out there and we hand out mulled wine and mince pies. We’ve got a snow machine as well, with a remote control inside, so when we see loads of kids outside we can make it snow on them, which they love.

“Some people can’t afford it, and it is an individual’s choice, but to the people who don’t decorate their houses, I say ‘bah humbug’!”

This year’s big switch on will take place on Saturday December 14. To find out more, visit the Runton Road Christmas Lights page on Facebook

Comments (10)

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3:18pm Sun 8 Dec 13

GAHmusic says...

Looks like a lot of fun I must see about visiting with my toddler this year so get that snow machine at the ready :-)
Looks like a lot of fun I must see about visiting with my toddler this year so get that snow machine at the ready :-) GAHmusic

4:08pm Sun 8 Dec 13

Caz1950 says...

Can't wait, we take the kids every year, they love it
Can't wait, we take the kids every year, they love it Caz1950

5:51pm Sun 8 Dec 13

ds corfemullen says...

See you on xmas eve can,t wait and its all for a good cause Well Done to you all
See you on xmas eve can,t wait and its all for a good cause Well Done to you all ds corfemullen

6:04pm Sun 8 Dec 13

pete woodley says...

Well done,from a ex wroxham rd man.
Well done,from a ex wroxham rd man. pete woodley

11:17am Mon 9 Dec 13

mark.s says...

As a resident of Runton Road, could I politely suggest that visitors walk up to see the lights where ever possible? The road is double parked much of the way, even more so when the lights come on.

The constant steady stream of cars driving up the hill, turning around at the top and driving down again causes chaos as drivers try and negotiate their way.

Walking will also give you a longer, better view of the lights!

Thanks.
As a resident of Runton Road, could I politely suggest that visitors walk up to see the lights where ever possible? The road is double parked much of the way, even more so when the lights come on. The constant steady stream of cars driving up the hill, turning around at the top and driving down again causes chaos as drivers try and negotiate their way. Walking will also give you a longer, better view of the lights! Thanks. mark.s

1:11pm Mon 9 Dec 13

OWL140 says...

Children and cars do not mix .all the ingredients of accident or death of a child are there with the amount of traffic in Runton Road at christmas time.the residents and council should give this a thought to minimise these dangers
Children and cars do not mix .all the ingredients of accident or death of a child are there with the amount of traffic in Runton Road at christmas time.the residents and council should give this a thought to minimise these dangers OWL140

3:49pm Mon 9 Dec 13

pete woodley says...

What do other neighbours think.
What do other neighbours think. pete woodley

6:23pm Mon 9 Dec 13

tom.joss says...

Remember its Christmas and children and their parents have been visiting the road for a number of years with no known incidents. We live in Runton Road and it is nice that the Echo has informed us that we are going to switch our lights on on Saturday 14th December!
Remember its Christmas and children and their parents have been visiting the road for a number of years with no known incidents. We live in Runton Road and it is nice that the Echo has informed us that we are going to switch our lights on on Saturday 14th December! tom.joss

6:35pm Mon 9 Dec 13

mark.s says...

Pete - what can us neighbours do, it's a public road and visitors to the lights have every right to drive up if they so wish. The group at the top who put on the lights have no issues with it clearly.

Us lot further down don't enjoy struggling to get in or out of our own drive way each evening, with the constant traffic on a double parked road it becomes very troublesome to get out.

Some mind that more than others of course, personally I find it mildly irritating but it's for a few weeks and a good cause so we put up with it. Others feel stronger, others don't mind at all.

All we can do is suggest/request that where possible, visitors walk up, and if they do they'll enjoy and appreciate the lights all the more. They can spend as long up there as they like without the next car in line waiting right behind them, and don't have the stress of negotiating their way up and down the road with all the other visitors - so everybody wins so far as I can see.
Pete - what can us neighbours do, it's a public road and visitors to the lights have every right to drive up if they so wish. The group at the top who put on the lights have no issues with it clearly. Us lot further down don't enjoy struggling to get in or out of our own drive way each evening, with the constant traffic on a double parked road it becomes very troublesome to get out. Some mind that more than others of course, personally I find it mildly irritating but it's for a few weeks and a good cause so we put up with it. Others feel stronger, others don't mind at all. All we can do is suggest/request that where possible, visitors walk up, and if they do they'll enjoy and appreciate the lights all the more. They can spend as long up there as they like without the next car in line waiting right behind them, and don't have the stress of negotiating their way up and down the road with all the other visitors - so everybody wins so far as I can see. mark.s

8:11pm Mon 9 Dec 13

pete woodley says...

It is for good causes, but you have my sympathy.and those putting on the lights should try and work alongside those who dont,I know the road very well and can easely see the difficulties,so why cant the organisers have a little compassion.If visitors park in Sheringham rd they will block up residents there,so what is the answer.I would like the council to help sort it out before neighbours start falling out with each other.
It is for good causes, but you have my sympathy.and those putting on the lights should try and work alongside those who dont,I know the road very well and can easely see the difficulties,so why cant the organisers have a little compassion.If visitors park in Sheringham rd they will block up residents there,so what is the answer.I would like the council to help sort it out before neighbours start falling out with each other. pete woodley

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