Last night, a friend introduced me to a new subculture: Christmas Light Artists. For years, my friend’s been identifying these artists from newspaper articles listing the “best” Christmas lights, and every holiday season he checks them out. This year, I was invited to tag along.
So at 5:00 p.m., I gathered the requisite tools – my pocket-sized digital camera and a super burrito from my favorite taqueria – and slipped into his car. His tools were much more extensive: a tripod, fancy camera, extra batteries, flashlights, warm clothing, and a GPS system loaded with what looked like hundreds of addresses. Off we went, over the famous Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin County, before stopping at our first destination in a Novato residential area:
Thanks to the brochures set out for visitors, I learned that viewing hours were 6-9 p.m., Dec. 22-25, and that the owner used 70,000 lights, it took him a month (fulltime?) to put them up, and his electric bill shot up an extra $1,000. As we were leaving, the owner was up on the roof getting ready to turn on his snow-making machines to entertain the crowd of children at the gate. A horse-drawn carriage stopped across the street to give the Christmas decoration aficionados seated within a peek at the ‘snow.’
While the rest of the houses we visited did not top the first, each was unique in its own way. Notable sights include …
Santa driving through the neighborhood on his gleaming red motorcycle, handing out candy canes to the kids. Though I was impressed, not all the children were as I heard one little girl ask Santa, “Where are my gifts?”
Notice the neon, “Open” sign below? These homeowners had a throng of people waiting in line to go inside the house to view each uniquely decorated room. I’m wondering how many visitors, upon exiting, added a contribution to the “Donations Accepted” box posted near the fence.
Not one for clashing colors or a mishmash of reindeers, Santas, and Wise Men, owners of this Castro Street residence in San Francisco added a touch of elegance to their decorations:
When the last Christmas light was seen at 10:40 p.m., both my batteries and my camera’s were nearly dead and the cold weather had me shivering. But it was worth it and I thank my friend for the fun night and a glimpse into a side of Christmas I didn’t know existed.
Is it just me or are there others out there, clueless about the existence of those who view Christmas decorations as an art form?