Santa's Ute on Victoria Road, Northcote. Photo: Rebecca Hallas
REBECCA Sollitt felt embarrassed when her husband Rob Wallace parked a glaring bright red ute as a Christmas decoration outside their house earlier this month.
The whimsical Aussie Christmas sleigh, wth a stuffed Santa leaning over the bonnet, has has become a festive season landmark in Victoria Road, Northcote.
Ms Sollitt conceded defeat when grinning strangers started knocking on their door, saying it had made their day.
Christmas lights up Melbourne
Thomson Street, Northcote. Photo: Rebecca Hallas
"I've been forced to jump on board with it all because it's bringing such Christmas joy to everybody," Ms Sollitt said.
Mr Wallace, a recruitment company owner, says he's not prone to flights of whimsy, but was inspired by a children's book, depicting Santa delivering presents in a ute with kangaroos in the back, to put together the elaborate yuletide folly for the delight of his five children, aged one to eight.
He has spent $3000 over six months. He bought a dented white 1978 Ford ute on eBay, and had it sprayed red and de-rusted.
He bought 150 waterproof plastic boxes from China via the internet and had them painted in bright colours and sprayed with Merry Christmas.
He bought Santa's suit, in washable polyester, also on eBay, and stuffed with duct tape and newspapers.
But why, Mr Wallace? "It's a bit of fun, a bit of Christmas cheer," he said. "I thought it would get a few laughs."
Since its unveiling on December 1, "it's had a life of its own. I can't walk out the front without somebody having a chat to me about it. I was bringing the bins in at 6 o'clock this morning and the lady across the road said, 'I love it. It's brought so much cheer to the area'.
"I went and got the boys' hair cut in Station Street, Fairfield, and the hairdresser goes, 'every single person who comes in here talks about your ute'."
Earlier this week he saw three cars queue up to take a photo.
A female classmate of his five-year-old son Harper asked to come over to his house, just to see the car.
"The kids love it. It's Dad's silly project, and now everyone talks about it at school, and it's their Dad's. It's all pretty exciting."
Mr Wallace says the effort has been worth it.
"The number of people who drive past and smile ... the day after we put it out on the street, a lady knocked on the door and said, 'I had the most horrible day and driving home, I saw this, and you made my day."'