133 Christmas trees! Red Deer couple goes all out for the holidays, humane society

RED DEER, Alta. –

Tom Kereluk and Vince Jackman have always loved decorating for the holidays and their home is a testament to that.

The Red Deer, Alta. couple has managed to put decorated Christmas trees on every floor of their home and in each room, including the garage, and their efforts benefit animals in need.

“We have 133 trees in the house,” said Jackman. “They range anywhere from little small ones all the way up to the 12 foot (3.6 metre) trees that are in the house.”

The passion began about 15 years ago after invited guests encouraged the couple to share their Christmas joy and open the house to the public. At the time, they decorated 15 trees and the display has grown every year since.

Over the last 15 years, the Red Deer couple’s Christmas tree collection has ballooned from 15 to 133.

Kereluk jokingly calls the trees an obsession, not a collection. He hesitates to think how much they’ve spent on decorations over the years but says many of the ornaments were gifted by friends and family who were changing their own displays or downsizing.

“We’re kind of hoarders at heart,” said Kereluk. “I just can’t throw anything out so I make trees that have stuff that I already have or I see something in a thrift store. I just create something from things that people would have thrown out.”

Two Las Vegas-themed trees in the basement are decorated with postcards and other souvenirs.

“We’ve been to Las Vegas many times in the past and we had all these room keys and little items that you get from Las Vegas,” he said. “What I did was create a tree of it, I was tired of putting them all in a box and leaving it on a shelf so (I created) a tree and at least look at it and see these memories each year.”

The trees are stored in their basement ahead of the festive season that starts as early as the end of October in their household. The couple goes floor by floor setting everything up and Jackman is methodical when he’s searching out new Christmas tree themes.

“I do a lot of research online to see what people are doing,” explained Jackman. “I’ve had clients from my business clean out their house and donate all their old ornaments and everything like that so we do have some vintage ornaments for trees this year.”

There is at least one Christmas tree in every room, including the garage, of Tom Kereluk and Vince Jackman’s Red Deer home.

While the couple get great joy out of watching visitors react to their display, they are also raising money for a good cause. In recent years, they’ve partnered with the Central Alberta Humane Society and have collected cash and goods for the shelter from their guests.

“I just would like this to generate a lot for the humane society,” said Kereluk. “Because it is a tough year for everyone, it’s a tough year for a lot of charities but being associated with them, it just tugs on my heart.”

Over the years, they’ve managed to raise more than $30,000 for the animal shelter.

Eve Sira, executive director of the Central Alberta Humane Society, welcomes the generosity.

“Third party fundraisers are the backbone to so many charities like ours, the community involvement and the community support means so much,” said Sira. “All the bills have gone up, utilities have gone up, we run on a very lean staff, but it still costs us $1.4 million a year to run our facility.”

The trees stay up in the home until Ukrainian Christmas on Jan. 7. Then everything is packed up and planning starts for next year.

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