Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wonderland.

(video about Tillis Park in St. Louis by KETC)

      In the U.S. from the 1960s, beginning in tract housing, it became increasingly the custom to completely outline the house (but particularly the eaves) with weatherproof Christmas lights. The Holiday Trail of Lights is a joint effort by cities in east Texas and northwest Louisiana that had its origins in the Festival of Lights and Christmas Festival in Natchitoches, started in 1927, making it one of the oldest light festivals in the United States.
      It is often a pastime to drive or walk around neighborhoods in the evening to see the lights displayed on and around other homes. While some homes have no lights, others may have incredibly ornate displays which require weeks to construct. A rare few have even made it to the Extreme Christmas TV specials shown on HGTV, at least one requiring a generator and another requiring separate electrical service to supply the amount of electrical power required.
      In 1986, Barry "Mad Dog" Gottlieb, organized the "Tacky Xmas Decoration Contest and Grand Highly Illuminated House Tour" with a tour of decorated homes in Richmond, Virginia. Since then, people either sign up for a tour, or drive around to find houses that are the tackiest. Most of the houses on this tour are completely covered in Christmas lights, similar to the way Clark Griswold decorated his house in the movie Christmas Vacation. The tour has been featured on "NPR", "Great Things About the Holidays on Bravo", "Crazy Christmas Lights" on TLC, and HGTV among other nationally broadcast programs. Locals in Richmond refer to it as the "Tacky Light Tour" and a growing number of cities have adopted this family Christmas tradition.
      In Australia and New Zealand, chains of Christmas lights were quickly adopted as an effective way to provide ambient lighting to verandas, where cold beer is often served in the long hot summer evenings. For many years the use of Christmas lights on Australian homes was mainly limited to this simple form. In the last decade increasingly elaborate Christmas lights have been displayed and driving around between 8.00 and 10.00pm to look at the lights has become a popular family entertainment. While in some areas there is fierce competition, with Town Councils offering awards for the best decorated house, in other areas it is seen as a co-operative effort, with residents priding themselves on their street or their neighborhood.
An updated list under the "Winter Wonderland" category of all the best Christmas light displays featured on the internet:
Links to webpages with more Christmas light displays.

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