The DeSario family, parishioners at St. Wilfrid’s parish in Toronto’s northwest end, annually go all out with their Christmas display. It’s all for a good cause, as the family raises money for Sick Kids Hospital. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Sick Kids benefits from monstrous Christmas display

  • December 1, 2012

TORONTO - The DeSario family is encouraging people to stop and stare at the abundance of Christmas cheer that illuminates their North York home, all in the name of charity.

“We like people to come and see it. It’s not there for nothing,” said Pat DeSario, who doesn’t mind forgoing his privacy for his annual cause.

For the 13th consecutive year the DeSario’s will be collecting donations for Sick Kids Hospital from those who take time to gaze upon the countless coloured lights which clad their home at 165 Benjamin Boake Trail, near Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue. Last year the family raised $16,000 and this year hope to exceed that figure.

“If they can donate it’s fine but as long they can just come and see it and it puts a smile on their face, it’s wonderful for us,” he said.

With their daughter diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of eight, the DeSario’s — members of St. Wilfrid’s parish — spent 10 years travelling back and forth to the downtown hospital for her treatment. The support Amatore DeSario said her family received during their frequent visits to Sick Kids impressed her so much that she felt the need to give back.

“In 1999 when we started to go really crazy (with the lights), we decided to go with the charity for Sick Kids because normally Christmas and the kids are tied in together. So we decided to go with Sick Kids,” said the mother of two. “I found it to be a very helpful hospital.”

While the focus of the fundraising efforts is children, the work that goes into the massive light display is anything but child’s play. Starting around Thanksgiving each year the couple puts in about 150 hours stringing lights on their home.

Time isn’t the only cost the DeSarios absorb. Despite having about 90 per cent LED mini-lights — which use about an eighth of the power of their incandescent counterparts — Amatore estimates powering the display to add an extra $1,200 a year to their hydro bill.

But seeing the joy their work brings to faces young and old makes it all worthwhile.

“Not only does it bring a lot of cheer to the young kids but also to the elderly,” said Amatore. “We get a lot of people who come from the old age homes with their buses and it just brings a smile to their face. It makes you feel good that you’ve done something for society.”

Despite less than favourable decorating weather so far this fall the DeSarios were able to complete the display — which varies slightly in design each year — a week before their personal Dec. 1 deadline.

Now they can sit back and enjoy the glow of good spirits which illuminates their home until Jan. 6 when the next phase begins — taking it all down.

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