Couple’s colourful display on the Niagara Parkway is a stunning light show
If you’ve driven the Niagara Parkway in the winter, you know it’s extremely dark – no street lamps, only lights from distant homes or an oncoming vehicle.
Then, in the week’s before Christmas, as you approach Line 2 Road, a bright glow is visible high in the sky.
As you get closer, it grows brighter until you realize it isn’t from a single source, but literally thousands of multi-coloured lights that create a spectacular winter wonderland.
Drivers slow to look, some park nearby and, young or old, walk over to stand on the shoulder of the road, drawn to the display that can only be described as magical.
All are mesmerized by hundreds of radiant balls dangling from trees, a beautiful life-sized horse and sleigh on the front lawn and bushes wrapped in strings of lights.
“It’s all about bringing joy to people,” says Wanda Nord, the woman behind the famous Niagara-on-the-Lake light show.
There are lights in every direction you look – blue, red, purple, yellow and green – all coming together to create something beautiful along the otherwise dark, eerie parkway.
Nord and her husband, Terry, first flicked the switch on the winter oasis 13 years ago, after being inspired by the famous, long-running light display at a home on York Road.
The Nords’ light show grows bigger every year.
“I started with four balls 13 years ago,” she said.
It’s a vision she has created as she custom-designs each shining ball of light and sparkling tree.
The lights take about seven full days to hang, but come down much more quickly, she said.
How do they get the lights up so high in the trees? “The little fairies put them up there,” she said with a laugh.
It’s not about the publicity or notoriety for Nord (she was reluctant to even be interviewed) – it’s about the magic, peace and love it brings not only to herself, but the entire community.
“You’re standing here. It’s calm. It’s peaceful. Everybody has their own interpretation of it and their own feelings,” she said.
“And so to keep this ambiance is very important to me.”
She recalled a time when, as she was plugging in some of the lights, a family pulled up. Their windows were down and she could hear a child singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
“The child had seen the stars that are on this star tree,” she said, pointing to the large yellow stars dangling high in one of the trees.
After the child finished his song, everyone in the car cheered and clapped. Then she heard something she’ll never forget.
“A male voice said, ‘Well, that was worth it,’ ” she said.
And Nord thought, “That is exactly what we want.”
“We want people to come and kind of peek through the gates and the hedge and look up high and have this feeling of wonder,” she said.
It’s about the little, and big, faces that light up in awe when they see the collection of lit up reindeer, trees and bushes. Or when they see her house illuminated by a variety of lights and shapes.
She doesn’t have a particular favourite. “I love them all.”
“The reason is because they’re my creation. I created them. They’re like children,” she said.
As for how many lights she has or how much it all costs, she doesn’t want to spoil the magic.
“It becomes a technical thing as opposed to magic and wonder, which is what we create,” she said.
And it truly is magical. Even with cars passing by, it’s easy to stand engulfed by the colourful lights and a feeling of calm washing over you.
Every direction you look, you can find something that makes you stop and stare.
Something that makes you stop and smile.
“We want to bring people joy and this is why we go higher and higher every year,” said Nord.
She often comes out at night to marvel at the display and take a peaceful walk, but steers clear of being seen by those looking from the street. She doesn’t want to spoil the magic for anyone.
It’s the couple’s way of saying Merry Christmas to the community, she said.
The lights are on every night, from 5 to 10 p.m., until Jan. 1 at 15630 Niagara Parkway.
“It’s all magic,” she said, smiling.