LYN Gilbert was thrilled when she found out she had won the 2013 The Courier Christmas Lights Competition judges' choice.
However, a sour taste remained for the Wendouree resident after two plastic candy canes lining the driveway were stolen on Sunday night, disconnecting a group of six.
The Rowan Parade light display features an impressive four-metre reindeer, flashing lasers and a projected video of Santa in a window.
She said the hard work and money was all worth it, just to see the happiness it brought to people.
“It’s just magic to see the joy on people’s faces, old and young, especially on the kids,” Ms Gilbert said.
“You shift a few things, and you end up an electrician by the time it’s over. I reckon I’ll be able to get my licence,” she said.
“I just love doing it to please people, and the pleasure it gives to people. We have our grandkids dressed as little Santas handing out lollies.”
The grandmother said vandals had targeted Christmas lights in Rowan Parade in recent years, and some neighbours refused to set up a display this year.
“Some vandals took my candy canes last night. A few people have pulled out this year because they couldn’t stand the little buggers,” she said.
Lyn Gilbert with the vandalised light display. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK
In 2010, Ms Gilbert’s display was targeted when a large and expensive feature was trashed and found further down the street in several pieces. However she believes vandalism has diminished this year and the Christmas spirit was still strong.
One Rowan Parade resident whose Christmas lights were well known for 20 years said she did not “have the heart for it” anymore, after her elaborate nativity display was trashed two years in a row.
“I set up a fence one night (in 2011) at 5pm. Next morning I looked out my window at 8am and it was gone," said the resident, who did not want to be named.
"Last year we had two candles that said ‘Noel’ and they (vandals) snapped them. A camel and a donkey were thrown over the neighbours’ fence.
“I think it’s getting worse. And all for what? For some young kids to get a kick.
“What’s the point in putting it out if it’s going to get wrecked?”
Ms Gilbert won $1000 cash and Gold Class movie tickets for her display.