Homeowner puts up 1.3M Christmas lights

(CBS) -- At the Salaj family estate in the village of Grabovnica in central Croatia, turns into a fairy tale decorated with an ever-increasing number of Christmas lights every December.

"In 2002 I got the idea to decorate (the property) with 70 thousand lights. And it was a huge sensation in this area. Everybody started asking how many I would use next year, so first I had 100 thousand, and then 200, 300, 400, and so on, and here we are now at 1.3 million," said Zlatko Salaj, an estate owner.

The elaborately decorated estate features over 3 miles of cables laid underground to connect the lights, along with some 60,000 feet of electric wires placed in trees and shrubs all around the estate.

In order to help pay the electricity bill, they charge a nominal entrance fee, except for children under seven years of age and disabled persons, for whom the entrance is free.

"This story, for these 39 days alone, will cost about $12,000 kuna in electricity bills," said Zlatko.

For Salajs, it takes more than two months to plant the lights around the estate, after which they keep them turned on every evening during December.

They then have to spend a few months to take them all down for storage. The entire cycle begins in September and ends in May.

Since its first edition in 2002, their project, titled "Christmas Story", became a huge success, attracting some 60,000 visitors every year, many of them children, delighted by the Salajs' unique festival of light and color.

The sheer interest keeps the Salajs busy throughout the holiday season.

"This year we started on September 20, and we had about 95 percent of it installed by December 1. There are days when ten of us work here (to keep it running)",Salaj said.

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