Alex Skaftouros’ Christmas lights in Victoria spread yuletide cheer and autism awareness

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By Mary Sinanidis.

Alex Skaftouros’ Christmas lights in Highett, Melbourne draw droves each year to his dazzling display. His quiet suburban street turns into a traffic snarl, making parking a challenge. I manage to find a spot in one of the backstreets and follow the twinkling lights, carol singing, and the sounds of children’s giggles.

Upon arrival, I am greeted by a Christmas wonderland with Alex, aged 25, standing near the gate beside a table covered with sweets for the children and a donation tin for Autism Australia. Last year, he raised $1,659, surpassing the $1,500 from the previous year, and this figure continues to grow.

Being autistic himself, Alex has chosen Autism Spectrum Australia as the charity for his display to raise awareness and support for others like him who aspire to lead normal lives.

alex Skaftouros’ christmas lights
Alex Skaftouros. All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Mary Sinanidis.
alex Skaftouros’ christmas lights

His mother, Jenny, expresses a Christmas wish: “I’d wish for more patience and understanding for people like Alex. They’re not weird. They will learn. They do learn. They just learn in a different way with a lot of repetition.”

Zac, his father, mentions that the family have been putting up the lights since Alex was around five years old.

“We started with a few things and these decorations grew over time. We would always do it together. I used to do most of the work, but now Alex takes charge,” he says.

Alex proudly adds, “I love it!”

Dazzled by the lights, Alex points out details of the display, including a ship paying homage to the Greek Christmas tradition, numerous Santas, and a festive Collingwood Magpie because it’s his favourite team.

“They won the premiership this year,” Alex says before asking me which team I support.

“Go the Pies!” I say, and Alex seems satisfied.

I point to a flashing Santa mooning people, and Alex laughs mischievously. Not all decorations are wholesome.

alex Skaftouros’ christmas lights

“I go to Bunnings, Ebay, Dollar King, and Christmas Kingdom to buy the lights. Each year I add something, and this year it’s those Christmas canes,” he says.

His mother adds that he scours the internet for inspiration, especially from homes decked up for Christmas in the United States because “they go crazy there.”

In his own neighbourhood, Alex is the inspiration, even receiving an award from Kingston Council during a Christmas light competition that was only held once, possibly because it was evident that Alex would be a hands-down winner every year.

When asked to make a Christmas wish, Alex says, “To get the lights up earlier!” and adds, “And for myself? A gift card to buy more lights.”

alex Skaftouros’ christmas lights

Alex loves putting up the lights and bringing joy to his community, especially the children.

“It’s a lot of work but everyone is happy. Everyone loves the lights. They are beautiful,” he says.

When he isn’t bringing the spirit of Christmas to his neighbourhood, Alex works at Mythos in Oakleigh.

“It’s next to Vanilla. I do the pittes. Come say ‘hi’,” he invites.

alex Skaftouros’ christmas lights

Despite being autistic, Alex is an extrovert, and his mother notes that other people’s admiration of the lights has boosted his confidence.

Waves of children come and go. Con Lambrou, father of three, mentions he has relatives nearby, and the children always ask to come by to see the lights.

“I’ve been coming past here for years,” he says. “We’ve seen this house with just three lights, and it has steadily been growing.”

alex Skaftouros’ christmas lights

With the amount of lights Alex currently owns, it could take three to four weeks to put them all up and two weeks to take them down. Next year will be even more special because Alex will soon be an uncle since his sister, teacher Jassmine, is expecting twins, and Alex is over the moon.

Alex is optimistic when it comes to the future. Apart from sharing the joy of Christmas with the babies, he hopes to travel more and mentions he has been to Kefalonia where his grandparents are from. His father is from Samos.

“I’ve also been to New Zealand, and flew business class to Auckland,” he says.

By next Christmas, he also hopes to learn to drive – but good luck finding a parking spot anywhere near his lights.

Alex’s house is at 58 Tennyson Street, Highett, Melbourne or find out more by visiting the Alex’s Christmas Lights Facebook page. Can you top Alex’s Christmas wonderland? Send us a photo and address of a Greek Australian home with Christmas lights. Email info@foreignlanguage.com.au.

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Mary Sinanidis.

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