(THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge couple forced to give up Christmas display

Health reasons have forced Paula and Perry Balascak to scale back annual display

A Maple Ridge couple known for their extravagant Christmas light display in support of the Friends In Need Food Bank will not be going all out this year.

Every year Paula and Perry Balascak with help from their son Tyler put up thousands of Christmas lights and wooden characters on the roof of their house and across their lawn.

Perry started the display in 1999 and had been adding to it year-by-year. As of last year they had 42 hand-made wooden characters, painstakingly outlined on a piece of wood by Paula, cut out by Perry and then back to Paula to be painted. Last year they made a Grinch scene from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas including the Grinch, his dog Max and Whoville signs.

However Perry was rushed to hospital on March 24 due to complications from type 1 diabetes. He contracted a streptococcus infection in his right toe and in April the digit was amputated. Perry was in hospital for a month and has trouble with his balance.

So, the Balascak’s have decided that they won’t be doing the display again this year.

Perry is devestated, but the couple will be donating all of their wooden displays to the Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park. Earlier this year he donated $30,000 worth of electrical products to Bright Nights after their displays were hit by thieves who stole the copper wires and extension chords. He will also continue working on the committee for the St. Paul’s Lights of Hope Campaign in downtown Vancouver.

Encouraged by his 17-year-old son Tyler, he will also be keeping the 25 boxes of Christmas lights he has collected over the years to put up a simpler but nice display in front of the house.

“He still is adamant to do a light display. He wants to decorate it up beautifully. It might be simplified in the lighting, but it will be nice,” said Paula who added that the community is still welcome to admire the lights, but they won’t be collecting donations for the food bank.

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