Dad who used to be homeless decorates house with 16,000 Christmas lights
- Credit: Mark Abbott
A dad who decorated his Norwich home in 11,000 lights last Christmas plans to blow his record out the water.
Dance school owner Mark Abbott — known locally as Mr Christmas — says this year there will be over 16,000 lights adorning his Tuckswood home he shares with his three kids and partner Kerry.
There will be nine illuminated reindeers, a "tunnel of light" leading up to the front door, a candy cane forest, snow machine, outdoor music and an eight-foot-long sleigh that can seat up to four children.
He's already hired a crane and got started on this year's display, which will be finished next weekend ready for the grand switch-on come December 5.
"People call me crazy", the 44-year-old said, "but I don't care because it makes me happy".
The three-bed home on Allanadale Road became a huge source of excitement for neighbours last year, with a big group even showing up for the switch-on countdown.
But Mr Abbott promises it will be "bigger and brighter than ever" in 2021.
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He said: "About 15 years ago I was registered homeless. I had been renting a place with a friend at the time and it went badly.
"I ended up sofa surfing and the spent nine months in a hostel.
"Because of that experience I realised how important it is to have a home you can go back to. For that reason I decided to use the light display to raise money for St Martin's homeless charity.
"I raised about £600 just by building a charity box at the end of my garden, and hope to raise even more this year."
It's been eight years since the Abbott family began putting up huge light displays for the festive season.
But it was 2020 when Mr Abbott decided to "go full-on Deck the Halls".
He confessed the electricity bills had actually got him into debt, but that he didn't mind: this was his way of lifting the spirits of people in his community.
He added: "During the pandemic, my business was non-existent. We had to shut everything down.
"Doing this made me and everyone else happy, and it kept me going."