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VIDEO: Christmas lights switched on in Poole's Runton Road
HUNDREDS of people descended on a quiet cul-de-sac in Poole tonight to see it transform into a magical festive scene.
What started out as a friendly rivalry between two neighbours competing over Christmas lights has become one of the most spectacular displays in the country.
Almost all 50 of the houses in Runton Road have now been illuminated with flashing bulbs, singing Santas, giant inflatable snowmen, model reindeer, sleighs and trains.
The dazzling display can be seen from half-a-mile away and attracts thousands of visitors from miles around.
It was even broadcast live on the One Show last year to an audience of five million viewers.
Organiser Mick Philips, whose house is adorned with at least 80 pieces said: “I am always overwhelmed with how popular it is. We had more than 2,000 people here on Christmas Eve last year.
“It all started next door as a competition, but eventually we all joined in. It’s such fun.”
All the houses involved put out collection tins for various charities, including Diverse Abilities Plus, Forest Home respite centre and Alzheimer’s UK.
John Turvey, whose family has been taking part in the lights display for 25 years, said: “This used to be the home of my parents, so I am now carrying on the tradition. It’s really good fun seeing the community come together.”
The longest serving town crier in the world, David Squire from Poole, was also on hand to lead the countdown.
He said: “This was the first time I’ve been to see the lights being switched on. It’s absolutely remarkable.”
Parents and children of all ages were left speechless when the Christmas lights were switched on in unison, illuminating the whole street.
Mary Turner, a mum from Poole, said: “We’ve come here each year with the kids and even though they’re getting older they still love it. I do too.”
Lottie Hill, 7, said: “It’s absolutely amazing. One of the houses even had snow coming out.”
The electricity board has said that the local grid "takes a bit of a hit" when all the lights are turned on every day at dusk.
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