(This is the third year that Chantelle and Shawn Turcotte and their kids (Hudson and Kennedy) have been bringing their larger-than-life Christmas spirited displays and fundraising support for charities to Cypress Gardens in Stittsville. On December 1st, the official launch of the Christmas classic ‘Elf’ came to life on the front yard of the Turcotte family home and beyond on Cypress Gardens in Stittsville. Photos: Stittsville Central)
Raised as an oversized elf, Buddy travels from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, Walter Hobbs, who doesn’t know he exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit. Look no further than a visit to 18 Cypress Gardens in Stittsville to find that Christmas spirit in a larger-than-life festive spectacle called ‘Elf’ where you will find Poppa Elf (aka Shawn Turcotte) dressed the part to greet you during your visit.
On December 1st, the season of all things about the candy and maple syrup loving Buddy ‘Elf’ was launched by Chantelle and Shawn Turcotte (the kids Hudson and Kennedy were at school) with a generous cheque presentation from Tammy and Doug Kazda owners of BMR and Barn Cat, and a ribbon cutting at which Councillor Glen Gower participated. Mike Ghosh, the Community Engagement Officer and Tracy Donahue, Director of Philanthropy, from the CHEO Foundation were present to assist in the opening of the ‘Elf’ display.
“This is one of our favourite times of the year. Not everyone realizes how much of a big difference the Turcotte’s make and how they help each kid and their families to live the best life possible,” shared Mike Ghosh.
For the past three years, the Turcotte family of Stittsville have been bringing Christmas joy to their street and our community of Stittsville. People have travelled from far and wide to take in the good-humoured and merry movie-themed scenes. The hype all began in 2020 with Griswold’s stomach-splitting ‘Christmas Vacation’ and a photo captured by Stittsville Central of that beloved station wagon with the huge balsam fir strapped on top travelling down Stittsville Main; followed up in 2021 with another family favourite, the funniest and most heart-warming movie ‘Home Alone’.
This year the family has gone totally ‘Elf’, with the largest display yet – expanding even further into a neighbour’s yard with a painted wooden sixteen foot Empire State Building. “We knew we had to go bigger and brighter (now 4,000 lights brighter) to top last year’s Home Alone. Chantelle, Hudson, Kennedy and I just want to have fun, create some attention for the community and help out the kids at CHEO. We appreciate this time of year and just love doing this,” said a cheery Shawn.
Asking Shawn about the decision to re-enact Elf on their front lawn, “It was a family internal conflict as we all had our favourites, so we went on-line to Twitter with our selections – Die Hard, The Grinch and Elf, with Elf beating out the other two choices. So we started making the list of props after watching the movie yet again (30 or more times in all). So many have contributed to our props and we thank them so much for making this a community and fundraising success“.
We asked about that Raccoon prop – we knew there had to be story? “We were out on a walk with our dogs and this golf club cover was just lying there and it was like aha – does someone need a hug? – a most memorable scene in the movie where Elf tries to befriend a hostile raccoon. It was a great find becoming an instant prop,” said Shawn.
After finding the car in the Toronto area to portray the New York City Yellow Cab, that nearly did Buddy in, the car was brought to Cavanagh Construction who painted it as an exact replica and sits in the laneway waiting for your photographs; In-Style made a cash donation to CHEO; then there were NextGen Signs and Kaufman Signs, (who have supported the displays for three years), who between them have crafted over 75 signs covering all of the famous sayings and scenes. Velcan Lumber providing the wood for the ‘Santa’ sleigh that had Shawn labouring for over 150 hours to plan and build; the parts for the sleigh dashboard instrument panel coming from Princess Auto (Shawn re-created by watching the movie to plan the scale and correct angle, he used toggles and switches, a pressure gauge and a label maker to ensure it was perfectly replicated); and the incredible Ottawa Lego group, ParLUGment, who spent two weeks creating the New York City skyline with 22,000 Lego blocks.
The Turcotte displays certainly achieve the comedic level sought and more, but more importantly, they are all for supporting an important cause.
For the Turcotte family, “it is much more than the display, it is having fun, bringing the community together to lift spirits and being able to do some good by raising funds for CHEO, especially with the current season of viruses where they find themselves in a dire situation. We just want to see all of the smiles on faces as our neighbours, community, especially the kids, and everyone comes by“.
In 2020, $50,000 was raised for the Stittsville Food Bank and in 2021, over $66,000 for CHEO Youth Mental Health. Again this year, the Turcotte’s have chosen youth mental health for the kids at CHEO and we encourage you to donate at this link or at the QR Code available when you visit the ‘Elf’ display. This exceptional Christmas extravaganza runs until the New Year.