A gingerbread-like house shines through the night on the Clevelands' property at 1948 Unicorn Road south of Haliburton village. The couple says they're happy to have people park at the bottom of their driveway and check out the display. They are considering collecting donations for the food bank for those who stop by. /JENN WATT Staff

Couple creates winter wonderland

By Jenn Watt

Atop a snowy hill on Unicorn Road sits a home alive with light. Glowing reindeer lead the way to the Clevelands’ home which shines like a wintry gingerbread house guarded by two glowing nutcrackers.

More than 8000 lights hang from trees and illuminate a Christmas wonderland carefully planned by St. Clair Cleveland.

St. Clair and his wife Diana have been celebrating the “season of light” for nearly 50 years taking their penchant for colour wherever they go first in Hamilton and Burlington and now in Haliburton.

“In the city we always had our whole property all lit up” says Diana over a cup of hot apple cider with St. Clair seated at her side.

“He usually thinks about it over the summer and he builds something new [each year]” she says.

The couple explains that Diana decorates inside the house and St. Clair takes care of the outside.

Installation of the lights begins in October because of just how much time and effort it takes to put it all together. And although their home and yard is already awash in light they say there are still “boxes and boxes of lights that haven’t gone up yet.”

They’ve added music with lights programmed to flicker and flash in time to make for a more immersive experience.

Neighbours have noticed the display and come to check it out but the Clevelands say they’re happy to welcome more people. They’ve cleared space at the bottom of the driveway for cars to park and plan to put out a bin for food bank donations.

Their lights are on as soon as it gets dark until about 10 or 10:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Once it gets closer to Christmas they say they’ll keep them on every night.

Diana and St. Clair Cleveland sit beside the hearth in their festive home.

The couple also wonder why the town of Haliburton doesn’t install a light display in Head Lake Park which they think could attract visitors.

“You have this big beautiful park and you don’t decorate it” St. Clair says. “… It’s a beautiful area to do it. It’s perfect.”

Although he says he’d be happy to lend a hand if the Municipality of Dysart et al ever decides to light up the park for now he’s concentrating on his own property and next year. Perhaps a carousel that moves putting lights into motion if he can find a way to deal with high winds he says. Certainly something “way bigger.”

The Clevelands’ house is at 1948 Unicorn Road south of Haliburton. From Haliburton follow Mountain Street out of the village until it turns into Unicorn Road.