Paul Bernhardi spent roughly a month, working mostly in the evenings after work - to put up all the Christmas decorations at his home in Bergvliet, Cape Town.
This year his home was named South Africa’s best decorated holiday home - receiving the most votes out of 22 entries. Over 12,000 people voted on Business Insider South Africa’s Facebook page over two weeks.
See all the entries here.
“Every evening before bed, my children would check how many votes our house received. To win this, and see how happy it made them is probably the highlight of my year,” Bernhardi says.
Together with his wife Samantha and children Rebecca (13) and Ethan (11), Bernhardi has welcomed over a thousand people to his property since the middle of December. Ethan was mandated to hand out sweets to visitors.
Bernhard, a veterinarian, would - after a day's work - come home to welcome visitors to his property, often walking up to vehicles parked outside to invite people to view the lights up close.
“After a few weeks of hundreds of people walking through your garden every evening, one grows tired. But, seeing people’s faces light up makes it all worth it,” Bernhardi says.
“If someone for a few split seconds forgot about the normal business of life, and felt the warmth of the holidays, I feel like we’ve achieved success.”
Bernhardi, who has been decorating his home since 2015, encouraged visitors to donate to Tears Animal Rescue either directly or through a donations box.
Over R2,000 was donated in cash at the donation box alone, Bernhardi says.
“One person also dropped an envelope with cash for our electricity bill, but that will now obviously go towards Tears,” Berhardi says. “The LED lights don’t use that much electricity.”
He believes the secret to winning the competition was the personal connection he formed with each visitor.
On Facebook, users commented how the house perfectly captured the spirit of Christmas.
“You have to get out your car and go inside and walk around the front garden,” Roslin Mitchell Senogles said.
“The whole family welcome you and chat to everyone. It is a delight for young and old.”
Bernhardi’s home in 32 Glen Alpine Way, Bergvliet, Cape Town can be visited every evening from sunset to 10:30 until January 5 when he will start dismantling the display.
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