How Ipswich used to celebrate Christmas on Nolan St
IF you grew up in Ipswich in the '90s, chances are you probably visited one very special street at Christmas time.
From the start of December each year, Nolan St at Raceview would transform into a magical wonderland filled with Christmas cheer.
Nearly every home was lit up with unique, imaginative displays, traffic was reduced to one way and a jolly man in a big red suit greeted each and every child.
The man behind it all was the late Trevor Grewar; a man with enough Christmas spirit to unite an entire community.
Mr Grewar's daughter Robyn Sloane said some of her earliest memories of Christmas with her dad was visiting the big Christmas tree at Raceview.
"First of December, that was our thing," she said.
"That was always something that he admired and I guess gave him the idea of the lights to start with.
"He actually started with just one string of lights. That was kind of the start of it, then it just went bigger then Ben-Hur."
Preparations for Christmas started months in advance with Mr Grewar's family receiving the first calls about his next big display plan as early as July.
"He would ring us up and say 'What are you doing?' and that was the horror phone call that you always dreaded because it was always 'I've seen this and I want to have this for Christmas," Mrs Sloane said.
"It was always different, I don't think he had the same display twice."
His family, including Robyn's husband David and her brother-in-law Ray Summer, helped to bring his ideas to life, building frames and other unique additions for his vision.
"Dad would point and say I want this here and I want this there. There was one year where he wanted to have a conveyor belt with toys rattling along," Mrs Sloane said.
"There was a 20 ft angel one time that he saw at Garden City, so he had that.
"She was damaged in a storm that came through, because you could be guaranteed the minute we put the lights up, a storm would come through and damage something and he'd be horrified and we'd get the phone call."
It wasn't just his family that were roped into his wild Christmas ideas. The neighbours also jumped on board.
"He used to send a flyer around. He started by knocking on the door, but generally by August or September he would send a flyer to the neighbours and we'd maybe have a bit of a get together and chat about it," Mrs Sloane said.
Once the displays were sorted and ready to shine, Mr Grewar and his family would spend each night of December welcoming others to Nolan Street.
"It was always a really lovely atmosphere with so much joy with the kids and the elderly getting around and you'd see people that you hadn't seen for years.
"He loved being Santa. The main thing for him was to see the smiles."
Mini tour buses would come from across southeast Queensland, including some from retirement villages and nursing homes.
"He always said, 'it's not just kids' he said 'have a look at the smiles on their face, this is bringing their childhood back.' That always meant a lot to him."
It's been some time since Nolan St was at its peak, after the loss of Mr Grewar.
"Unfortunately, he's been gone for 13 years now and about two years after he passed away, I think the lights dropped off."
Trevor Grewar's legacy has been honoured by a large Christmas tree planted in Raceview near the community dog park.
Former Councillor Kylie Stoneman went to the family with the idea to celebrate the Nolan St Santa and a community champion.
"That was amazing," Mrs Sloane said.
"She contacted me and told me and it was just amazing. It was perfect. That is something that really was him. We went up there last weekend and decorated it.
"The star didn't make it to the top of the tree, but maybe next year. We had ladders, but they were just too short."
Mrs Sloane said giving back to the community was one of the things her dad enjoyed most.
"There wasn't a street parade that went on in Ipswich that Dad didn't run or organise. He was very well known with that, plus he was involved with the red coats, he started the Queensland Volunteer Corps in Ipswich. He was very involved in the community in other things," she said.
Santa's new address
There'll be no brass bands,
No drums beating loud
The pain in our hearts,
Is the deafening crowd.
He'll suffer no pain,
Heartache or despair.
He's gone to a new place,
A meeting to chair.
For he's planning a spectacular,
As only he can do.
It will take some planning,
He'll recruit one or two.
The orders he issues,
We'll still hear in our hearts.
The loss we've encountered,
We've known from the start.
Would be a dilemma,
To know how to deal.
To not have his presence,
Just seems so surreal.
He needed some order,
For the lights weren't quite right.
So he'll give some instructions,
Of course, being polite.
So look to the night sky,
Remember with love.
The stars will shine brighter,
In the heaven's above.
For December is his month,
Not too far away.
To get things in order,
Will take more than a day.
So that's what is needed,
This time to prepare.
To question his timing,
Not one would dare.
When the lights turn on,
On December one.
Look up the heaven's,
Listen for the fun.
He'll have his committee,
They better perform.
If they don't we'll soon know it,
Just wait for the storm.
Santa's new address,
For those in need.
Just send it to heaven,
He'll want plenty to read.
- Robyn Sloan (Nee Grewar)