Bright Lights

Bright Lights

The holidays are full of traditions. Some are as personal as a specific holiday meal and yet others are so widely observed that they become almost a celebrated holiday in and of themselves.

Holiday lighting displays are one of the latter. They have been popular for decades but innovations in mass production and technologies have helped the tradition grow to one of mammoth proportions. One theory is that anyone can participate. There are no requirements on how large, how traditional or even what the decorations must be and, it isn’t a holiday only for the decorators. There are droves of people all across the country that made their own tradition of venturing out to view the displays and see what the creative minds have dreamt up this time.

The spirit of the season seems to breed natural competition as well. From theme parks to movie plots to neighbors, the desire to have the best display sparks the creative juices.

One of our customers in the Orlando area recently described the thought and effort that goes into his neighborhood’s famous lighting contest. Decorations start going up the day after Thanksgiving but the plan starts to develop even before the lights come down in early January. People come from hundreds of miles away and the neighborhood treats it like a job. One story involved a car club calling to confirm the lights were up, a mad dash to get them up, and shortly after the admiring car club members left, power strips erupting into flame.

There are categories ranging from most traditional to most innovative, and they have earned second place in the citywide contest. The technology comes in to play with many of the displays being digitally linked to music in addition to the use of LED lighting. The importance of the LED lights stems from the fact they require much less electricity to run (meaning you can plug in more strands without them exploding).

Commercial displays take on a whole different dimension with some costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to design and build. Here is a list of the top 10 best commercial displays in the U.S., according to We’re not saying the South is more festive, but come on! Only two of the Top 10 west of the Mississippi River?

  1. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland – West Knoxville & Bristol, Tennessee
  2. Silver Dollar City – Branson, MO
  3. Oglebay Festival of Lights – Wheeling, WV
  4. Smoky Mountain Winterfest – Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, TN
  5. Trail of Lights – Austin, TX
  6. Magical Nights of Lights – Lake Lanier, GA
  7. Holiday Festival of Lights, Charleston, S.C.
  8. Enchanted Garden of Lights, Chattanooga, TN
  9. Louisville MEGA Cavern, Louisville, KY
  10. Southern Lights – Lexington, KY

There are many more listed in honorable mention and all would be worth checking out!

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