9 U.S. Neighborhoods With the Best Holiday Light Displays
Now that Thanksgiving (and the turkey leftovers) has come and gone, it's time to unearth that tangled ball of holiday lights from your attic and dress up your abode. And while your holiday sparkle might come in the form of a string of colorful lights and Santa Claus or reindeer ornaments, others go all out each year. That is to say there's nothing amateur about these neighborhood legends. In fact, their spectacular, over-the-top twinkling displays draw crowds of spectators – and even some limo tours. From Brooklyn to Kissimmee, we found nine of the best residential holiday light displays that could even warm the frigid, old heart of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
Sure, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is impressive, but those in the know head to south Brooklyn to see an even more magical holiday light display. Many residents in Dyker Heights, dubbed “Dyker Lights,” hire professional companies to string lights outside their homes. And each display is unique – one house has a mammoth-sized Santa Claus on the porch, while others feature toy soldiers or illuminated angels climbing up their stoops. The event has grown since it started in the 1980s. These days, tour companies even take visitors through the neighborhood to see the professional displays for $50.
Location Tip: The biggest displays can be found on 11th and 13th avenues.
Candy Cane Lane, Wisconsin
Who's got the holiday spirit? The residents on Candy Cane Lane do. This holiday light display in West Allis is also a chance for residents to raise money for the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund. The residents have been stringing lights and decorating their homes with candy canes since 1984. And they've raised about $1.6 million to date. Everyone helps out -- even high schoolers chip in and transform trees on residential streets into candy canes. Approximately 300 homes participate in the holiday event and Santa Claus has been known to stop by to check out their craftsmanship.
Location Tip: Between Oklahoma Avenue from 92nd to 96th streets.
Peacock Lane, Oregon
Dubbed "Portland's Christmas Street," Peacock Lane is a four-block area in Portland, Oregon with Tudor-style homes designed by R.F. Wassell in the 1920s. Folks here start hanging their displays on December 15 and have been doing so since the 1940s. The event is free of charge and cheery residents often pass out free cocoa and cider provided by local sponsors. But after the property at 522 Peacock Lane was recently sold to a Portland developer, some are wondering if the show will go on in the future. Residents have even started a GoFundMe campaign to make Peacock Lane a National Historic District and stop new development.
Location Tip: On Peacock Lane, between Southeast Stark to Southeast Belmont streets.
Dolores Heights, San Francisco
For nearly three decades, long-time partners Tom Taylor and Jerry Goldstein have brought Christmas to San Francisco. Oversized stockings marked "Tom" and "Jerry" hang in front of their Dolores Heights home, which sits on a steep hill. The centerpiece of their over-the-top display is the real 65-foot Norfolk pine tree that they originally bought as a houseplant. Santa Claus often hands out candy canes to the crowds that gather to marvel at their display, which the couple leaves up until New Year’s Day.
Location Tip: 3650 21st Street, between Church and Sanchez streets. Fun fact: The house is up the street from Mark Zuckerberg’s multi-million-dollar lair.
Residents in Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding cities are proud to get tacky for the holidays. They flip on their lights on Thanksgiving Day for the annual "Tacky Lights" display, which has been providing holiday cheer for the last 27 years. The neighborhood event is so popular that many companies offer limousine tours that drive visitors by the twinkling reindeer and candy canes on neighborhood lawns. For a full list of the participating houses, visit here. Only houses that have 40,000 lights or more are included on this VIP list. The houses at 9604 and 9606 Asbury Court have almost one million lights in their displays.
Location: Tacky Lights spans through numerous towns – Richmond, Hanover, Henrico, Glen Allen, Lakeside, Chesterfield, Ashland, and more.
34th Street, Maryland
The light displays on 34th Street in Baltimore, Maryland aren't a miracle, but a labor of love. Every holiday season, strings of lights are hung across the block on Hampden’s West 34th Street. The Miracle on 34th Street display is a block party filled with row houses that are decked out in snowmen, Christmas trees, and menorahs. But there are also unorthodox decorations like Jim Pollock’s hubcap Christmas tree and his bicycle wheel snowman at 712 West 34th Street. And don't worry if you can't make it before Christmas – the lights stay on until the new year.
Location Tip: On the 700 block of 34th Street, between Chestnut Avenue and Keswick Road.
Ron Lister’s home in Kissimmee, Florida is a one-man show that draws returning spectators every year. The light display has a religious theme, with a nativity scene and a neon "Jesus is the reason for the season" sign on the garage door. The sparkling palm trees, however, are an ode to Florida. The lights twinkle in tune to music that you can hear through you car radio, thanks to an FM transmitter set-up. To see photos of Lister's Christmas display from 1999 to present day, visit the Christmas Wonders website.
Location Tip: 1642 Sunburst Way, Kissimmee, Florida.
Lake Mead, Nevada
Not every holiday-light fanatic lives on land. Case-in-point: The Christmas Parade of Lights on Lake Mead. Sponsored by the Lake Mead Boat Owners Association, this spectacle is in its 40th year. The free, family-friendly event features about 50 speedboats, sailboats, and yachts floating along Boulder Beach with colorful lights that reflect off the water. Awards are presented to the best displays following the parade. Make sure to check out the docked boats pre-parade to see the boat owners' handiwork up close.
Location Tip: Boulder Beach Lake Mead, Nevada
The Hyatt Extreme Christmas will go on this year after Mark and Kathy Hyatt won a lawsuit brought by the city of Plantation that claimed their display was a safety hazard and nuisance. The Hyatts, who got married in 1990, pour love into their Christmas display. Pathways, which include a massive nativity scene, hand-painted lollipops, Santa’s workshop, a moving 20-foot Ferris wheel, and gingerbread village, lead through their home's lawn.
Location Tip: 11201 N.W. 14 Street, Plantation, Florida
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Read the original story: 9 U.S. Neighborhoods With the Best Holiday Light Displays by Nalea Ko, who is a regular contributor to Oyster.com