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4 of Toronto's brightest, most festive holiday homes

With the lack of snow, how are we to know that Christmas is just around the corner? Well, by looking around the corner at some of the city’s spectacles. These Toronto houses are known in their neighbourhoods for their seriously festive flair

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A CHILDHOOD DREAM MADE VERY, VERY BRIGHT: Tony De Freitas has two jobs. For most of the year, he works for the city, but from October until Christmas, Mr. De Freitas, 46, becomes a decorator of his Dupont and Ossington area home. The front lawn and entire house, which he shares with his parents and sister, are coated in nativity scenes and blinding Christmas lights. “It all goes back to when I was a kid,” he explains. “My neighbour used to decorate his house at Christmas and I always thought ‘when I grow up, I want to live in a house like that.’” His ever-evolving display, which he’s been developing for 15 years, is lit up between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., and very late on Christmas Eve.

Della Rollins/The Globe and Mail

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LEG LAMP: It sits proudly in the front window of a North Toronto house, beckoning to all who are fans of the classic movie AChristmas Story. The leg lamp, a truly ugly prop believed by all fans of the 1983 feel-good flick about a nine-year-old boy, Ralphie, who yearns for Santa to bring him a Red Ryder gun. Owned with pride by a Toronto couple named the Paisleys, they’ve displayed the three-foot-tall lamp shaped as a lady’s leg, clad in fishnets, and topped with a tacky shade for the past 20 years. Each year, Laura Paisley says they get a knock on the door from a grateful parent or grandparent who has brought a child to gawk at the unconventional window that never fails to make passersby giggle as they drive by.

Della Rollins/The Globe and Mail

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PARKDALE PAIN: Michael D’Elia has been decorating his Parkdale duplex for Christmas for so long that he can barely remember when he started. “Who knows?” he says. “More than 30 years.” Mr. D’Elia is 88 and has lived in Parkdale since the fifties. His elaborate and very bright Christmas display has earned him recognition from the community association and scorn from some of the area’s younger citizens. “Some people like it,” he says, laughing. “Some [people] pull down some of the decorations. But I do this for the community, and a lot of people come and take pictures.”

Della Rollins/The Globe and Mail

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THE DOLL HOUSE DRESSES UP: Not purely a festive house but certainly a Toronto legend, the infamous doll house in Leslieville does put on a bit of a Santa’s hat just in time for the holidays. The lawn is always covered in old children’s toys, a hobby of owner Shirley Sumaisar and her son James, but at Christmas it gets a dash of holiday colour, with illuminated Clauses tucked about the action figures and dolls. What’s it like to live near a tourist attraction? “Those of us who live here don’t pay that much attention to it,” says Lorna Morin, who’s been a neighbour of the doll house for seven years. “Lots of people come by the house to take pictures of it and see it, but when you go past it every day you stop looking at it.”

Della Rollins/Della Rollins for the Globe and

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