Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
November 12, 2001
'Let George Do it,' Alloro would say
Calgarian remembered for huge Christmas display
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
CALGARY — Calgary businessman George Alloro will be long remembered for a joyous Christmas spirit so overwhelming that he had his neighbours threatening to take him to court.
In 1960, Alloro, who died Oct. 16 at age 67, set up a brilliant Christmas light display in front of his home in northwest Calgary.
Soon cars lined up around the block to see the imaginative display and it quickly became a Christmas tradition and local tourist attraction.
Every year it grew with new creations featuring everything from Santa fishing to a 15-metre replica of the Calgary Tower to a mosaic of the Alberta emblem and flag.
Traffic cops began directing cars and the display soon engulfed his home. Passerbys sometimes peered into the family living room to see the lights inside the home.
Overwhelmed and threatened with lawsuits from neighbours, in 1968 Alloro began looking for a new home for the outdoor spectacle, which featured more than 30,000 bulbs. With the help from his children and friends, it was moved to nearby Confederation Park Golf Course.
Spending as much as $20,000, the multi-coloured display flashed Merry Christmas in 10 languages to passing motorists.
Five years later, he turned the project over to the Calgary Lions Club. Today it is western Canada's largest Christmas light show with 70,000 bulbs lighting up a 360-metre display.
But longtime friend Pat Finestone said, "George did more than give us the huge display of Christmas lights on 14th St. N.W. which thousands of Calgarians enjoy every year."
"He should be remembered for the fine Catholic family man and role he played in building and maintaining a church community for all to enjoy. He especially made newcomers and visitors to the church very welcome."
Alloro, who became a successful Calgary businessman after establishing George's Electric in 1957, won the hearts of many parishioners at Canadian and Korean Martyrs Church. His motto in life was "Let George do it."
He used his truck to pick-up donations for St. Vincent de Paul, bottles for the Cubs and Scouts, and food for the Mustard Seed street ministry.
"He loved people and to be there when others needed to talk, to be of comfort to them," his family said.
One of his last deeds was to organize a going-away party in July for Canadian Martyrs pastor Father Gordon Kennedy.
Alloro, who was known as "Reverend George," also served on the parish council and on the maintenance committee.
Finestone, a member of the St. Mary's College Foundation, spearheaded the establishment of a scholarship to honour Alloro.
It is to be given annually to a student of good moral character who is involved in volunteer and community work and in need of financial assistance.
"It isn't Christmas every day," said Pat's husband, Izzy. "But it will be every time you think of George Alloro."
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