A world-record display of 502,165 colorful twinkling Christmas lights provided the magical backdrop for an awesome marriage proposal this past weekend in the Australian town of Forrest, a suburb of the capital city of Canberra.
On the opening night of the incredible display — which is assembled at the residence of barrister David Richards — Peter Qin went down on one knee and asked for the hand of Evelin Xu in front of a group of friends, family and wide-eyed members of the public. The delighted Xu said, “Yes,” and the newly engaged couple posed for pictures in the glow of the holiday light show.
In 2011, the Richards earned a Guinness World Record for decorating their home with 331,038 lights. But the record was short-lived. A family in upstate New York broke the record last year when they flipped the switch for 346,283 lights in the small town of Lagrangeville.
Not to be outdone, the Richards family was back in the game this year with another record-setting effort, out-decorating the New York family by more than 150,000 lights. According to NPR, the Richards’ yard features a canopy of lights fanning out beneath a large tree whose trunk is wrapped in glowing colors.
The extraordinary project is a fantastical labor of love for the Richards family, which includes wife Janean, and children Aidan, 13, Caitlin, 10, and Madelyn, 6.
The family accepts donations from holiday visitors to support SIDS and Kids ACT, two foundations that work to reduce sudden and unexpected death in children. In 2011, the family was able to raise $70,000. This time, they hope to break $100,000.
“The charity is very close to our heart,” David Richards told The Canberra Times. “We lost a child, and SIDS looked after us many years ago.”
Amazingly, if laid end to end, the Richards’ display of a half-million LED lights would stretch more than 31 miles. The fee to keep the bulbs lit for the month-long public display is nearly $2,500, a bill paid by a local renewable energy company. What the family’s attic looks like in the off-season can only be imagined.
“I have always loved Christmas,” he told The Canberra Times. “[By sharing] the Christmas lights with the community… you get to know people you probably should know better, I guess. It’s like a party in your driveway every night.”
The display runs from November 30 until December 26. If you’re traveling near the Australian capital city you may consider stopping by 3 Tennyson Crescent in Forrest to view the record-breaking spectacle.