Enjoy Christmas in July: Well-known fundraiser has a bright plan

For eight years, a Beacon Bay house was the epitome of Christmas magic, drawing hundreds of shiny-eyed children to see it lit up with snowmen, stars and Santas, but next week the festive lights will relocate to celebrate Christmas in July.

Philanthropist Di Grassi, who turned her passion for neon Christmas decorations into a welloiled fundraising operation for the residents of East London’s old-age homes, has put her Pinewood Road home on the market and, by December, its magic will be gone.

“I was going to sell the decorations because we have decided to downsize and move nearer the ocean to Sunrise-on-Sea, but then someone asked ‘where will all the children go in December?’

LIT UP: Lynda Gower, left, and Tamara Sutton Hartwanger sort through some of the many Christmas decorations being translocated. Picture: SUPPLIED

“Also, how would I raise money for the elderly residents I’ve been supporting for six years?”

Grassi hit on the idea of turning Floradale’s Country Bumpkin Restaurant into a Christmas wonderland when she enjoyed a meal in the venue’s spacious garden.

“It struck me that the restaurant garden would be the ideal place for my lights so I spoke to owner Caitlin Mostert and we decided to do a Christmas in July and then repeat it in December if its successful.”

Grassi said following a “casual” plea on Facebook for volunteers, she now has 10 eager Christmas elves who will help her transport her substantial stash of decorations to the restaurant.

“We had to buy a shed for all the decorations and every top cupboard in my house is full of them.

“On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we will descend on Country Bumpkin and turn it into a magical Christmas wonderland.”

Christmas in July evenings will be held on Wednesday, July 12 to Saturday, July 15 and then again from Wednesday, July 19 to Saturday, July 22 so that patrons can enjoy dinner and take in the joy of an unseasonal Christmas, while at the same time helping the residents of Langham House, Manor House and D J Sobey old-age homes.

“Every night one of us will be there selling raffle tickets, glowsticks and Christmas crackers and we will also have fun competitions for the kids to enter.”

And, on Friday and Saturday evenings, Santa himself will arrive with a sack of suckers. He may even be accompanied by an Easter bunny!

The big screen that used to be such a hit at Grassi’s home will be set up on July 21 and 22 and guests are invited to bring a blanket to sit on, which they can donate to the city’s older residents afterwards.

On the last Saturday, Grassi is organising a “Christmassy flea market” with jumping castles and more.

The Christmas in July evenings are from 5.30pm til 10.30pm. Dinner bookings can be made by calling Country Bumpkin at (043) 748-4840. — barbarah@ dispatch.co.za

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