A living, shining, stunning memorial to a boy who lived for just 90-minutes is bringing Christmas joy to the families of Melton and beyond.
Brett Greenland created his first yuletide light display in 2008 – and his first pixel animation show in 2016 – but things really ramped up two years ago when the family channeled the grief of losing a premature twin son.
While Jonah isn’t a name we normally associate with the festive season, his name shines boldly in an annual display at a home in Melrome Court, Kurunjang.
The sound-and-light show has such a big following, Council has to close off part of the street, with traffic controllers brought in to handle the thousands of onlookers.
“I do it for the kids and I do it for Jonah,” Mr Greenland said.
“Before the twins were born, we were told Jonah and Caleb had a brain condition and would probably not make it to term.
“But it was a miracle they made it as far as they did.
“Jonah came out first.
“There were 15 staff in the room and we were told we would only have a few minutes with him
“Then Caleb was born.
“You know, you hear about these bonds with twins – I used to think it was a crock – but then I witnessed it myself.
“The two hugged each other and I honestly thought there for a while that Jonah would make it, long-term.
“Then Caleb took a turn for the worse.
“He was treated by staff and taken away.
“When we knew his condition was stable, off CPAP and he was recovering – then we saw Jonah slip away almost straight away.”
I want to thank everyone who came out yesterday to see the show, during our peak period we estimate we had over 100-150…Posted by Christmas in Melrome Crt Lightshow on Wednesday, December 23, 2020
The boys had a condition known as HPE (or Holoprosencephaly) where part of the brain does not develop normally. This can lead to issues with the cerebral cortex.
“Caleb is a bit behind everyone else, but he is a gift,” Mr Greenland said.
“I get the privilege to have a son that is alive and OK.
“The Christmas lights show has become very personal for us and we love every minute of it.
“This is more than a hobby. It’s a passion for my family and it’s part of the grieving process.
“I have been determined to dedicate my light show to my son – and the brighter the show, the better he can see it from heaven.
“I also have three other kids. They lost a sibling as well. We’ve had to endure this as a family.
“Grief never really leaves you, and this light show is a big part of my family now.
“I want to spread hope through what I am doing – especially to people who are in a dark place – and tell people there is a bigger picture.”
Mr Greenland said it was a ‘blessing” to be able to decorate his home his each year and show it to the world.
“The story of hope from Jonah is what we want to carry on.
“We were told he would die in the womb – and he didn’t.
“We were told he would be deformed – and he wasn’t at all.”
Mr Greenland asks visitors to dig deep and donate to the Very Special Kids charity via volunteer collectors.
“Last year we were able to raise $2000 for them and $1500 in 2018,” he said.
“It has been a bit harder this year due to COVID and because some of the characters in costume – including Batman – haven’t been around as much.”
But fear not, Santa’s elves have told us that Father Christmas himself and one of the stars of Paw Patrol could be dropping by Kurunjang tonight (December 24) on the back of a truck.
Former Moorabool councillor Jarrod Bingham has volunteered in previous years – and even donned the red suit and long white beard for the cause.
COVID also put a question mark over any show at all this year.
At first, Mr Greenland was going to cancel the 2020 lights, but mustered the energy to complete six months’ work in three weeks. He was getting up before dawn to set up lights each day.
“I remember we had one family in the street the first year we did this and their child had just left the cancer ward,” Mr Greenland said.
“Seeing the lights was the first thing that made him smile after getting out of hospital.
“These are the kind of reasons we do this.”
Mr Greenland is an audio-visual and lighting project manager by trade – and starts planning each display early in the year
He said he already had plans for 2021 – with much of his inspiration coming from US YouTube videos.
A highlight of the show is ‘Kermit’ the joke-telling Christmas tree – and this year a Mickey Mouse animation is also providing COVID-safe advice.
When fully lit, the award-winning pixel animation display features 28,000 red, green and blue LED lights – with combinations of the lights creating every colour inbetween.
Mr Greenland said fewer than two dozen homes across Victoria used this kind of technology at Christmas.
So they must have quite a power bill, right?
“LEDs are really good because they’re low voltage,” he said.
“We have solar power on our house, but the bills for the month are usually only $100-$150 extra.”
** You can check out the Melrome Court lights Sunday-to-Thursday 8.45-10.30pm. Music for the display is simulcast on 99.8 FM via car radios.
The light show does not operate in heavy rain. Check https://www.facebook.com/melromcrtlightshow/ for updates.
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