It's the end of an era for a Christmas icon in Saint John.

The west side holiday display known as Murphyville, started by the late MLA Lou Murphy more than 40 years ago, won't be lit this year.

Murphy's nephew, Donald Coholan, who has been looking after the site since his uncle died in 1995, says he can no longer maintain the display.

"I feel bad about it, but that's just the way life goes," said Coholan, 78.

"You reach a certain stage in your life and you just can't … you just can't keep that work up."

In his younger days, Coholan used to dress up as Santa and hand out candy canes to the people flocking to the popular attraction that includes miniature buildings and several statues.

Decorations to be donated

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The reindeer display has already been removed and the rest will be dismantled in the coming months. (John Van Dusen/CBC)

Each element has it own story, such as the first statue, which was flown in from France in 1966, weighing 200 pounds, said Coholan.

"The people coming at Christmas time was unbelievable — thousands of cars come down, a week before Christmas till about three or four weeks after," he said.

But the reindeer display was removed last week and the rest will be dismantled in the coming months.

"A lot of people are going to be disappointed," said Coholan's wife, Juliette.

People have been asking about the lights, she said.

"They wanted to know when we were going to light the hill up and I said we weren't this year."

The couple's daughter and son-in-law are busy and there's no one else to look after the site, she said.

The Coholans will donate the miniature buildings and statutes to anyone willing to take them.