Nottingham

Dad's makeshift wonderland attracts more than 100 families

Tony McManus' makeshift winter wonderland Image copyright Tony McManus
Image caption Tony McManus said the winter wonderland started with a homemade sleigh and it "snowballed" from there

More than 100 families have booked to visit a makeshift winter wonderland made by a "Christmas crazy" father of three in his back garden.

The attraction features a grotto where children can meet Santa and a replica Coca-Cola Christmas truck.

Tony McManus said one young visitor was so overcome by emotion she "came out of the grotto in tears".

He is not charging for entry to visit the attraction in Retford in Nottinghamshire.

However, people can make a donation towards buying a "roving" defibrillator which he will take to the 10 schools where he teaches PE - £300 has been raised in just four days.

Image copyright Tony McManus
Image caption A key feature of the wonderland is a replica Coca-Cola truck

"My family are all a bit Christmas crazy," he said.

"My wife has probably got the biggest burden because she has got to tolerate it all."

He said his one one-year-old daughter "loves all the lights", while his three-year-old daughter "thinks it's absolutely amazing".

His 16-year-old son is helping him by dressing as an elf.

Image copyright Tony McManus
Image caption Tony McManus has got his whole family involved in the project

Mr McManus, 45, said it all started when he was driving past someone's house and noticed they had thrown away some chairs, part of which resembled sleighs.

He decided to turn them into a sleigh, then built a Coca-Cola Christmas truck with the help of a friend and it "snowballed" from there.

"I thought why don't I let some of the kids I teach come and see it?" he said.

"Before we knew it we had 90 families. The phone is non-stop. I could double it, easily.

"We do about six families per night; 20-minute slots from six to eight o'clock."

Image copyright Tony McManus
Image caption Mr McManus said he was already planning next year's wonderland

He has had to add some extra days to cope with demand and said the best way for people to contact him was through his Facebook page.

This Christmas will be the first without his mother who died from cancer in March, shortly after Mr McManus was treated for cancer himself.

He said the winter wonderland had given him something positive to focus on.

Mr McManus is already planning a bigger and better winter wonderland for next year, which will include a walk-in igloo.

"The rest of the project is secret, but I'm already planning," he said.

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