They Shine so Bright

It’s that time of year again. The most wonderful time of the year when you need sunglasses at night. When your neighbor’s lights blink with such intensity that you wonder if they’ll bring on a seizure. When everyone and their dog competes to have the most incredible holiday light display ever. But what do you do when you crave the more powerful stuff, when the Santa on the roof just isn’t enough? When you really, really need to see 500,000 lights all at once?

Relax because we live in a country where bigger is better and the brightest is the best. Festivals of Lights are increasingly popular and are not terribly hard to find. Fire up your favorite search engine and type in the name of your town, holiday and lights to find splendiferous holiday dazzle near you.

What do you do if you live in a remote area? Turn off all your lights and go outside and look for a glow. One person in Arkansas was so excited about the Holiday Lighting season that lights from his decorations could be seen from 80 miles away before the courts made him scale back. For everyone else here is a sampling of the treats available right now, in your metaphorical backyard.

Chandler, AZ isn't content to have a typical evergreen for their tree lighting ceremony. They have a thirty foot holiday tree made out of tumbleweeds. It takes about a thousand tumbleweeds and a terrifying amount of flame retardant and fifty pounds of glitter to pull this one off but they manage it. After the tree lighting you can watch the Parade of Lights, and then visit Santa's House for a free picture with the man himself.

Minneapolis' Holidazzle focuses on a series of parades complete with twelve floats, 250 characters and thousands of costumed volunteers. The choir members on the choir float wear robes lined in lights. A new attraction this year is “Holiday Lights on Parade – a line of inflatable lightbulbs”, an intriguing and mysterious description.

South Carolina's largest free holiday light display is found in Sumter. You can admire a million lights, one hundred lighted figures, some of such luminaries as Bob the Builder and Sponge Bob. You can also mail your letters to Santa. The Poinsettia Festival also includes a singing Christmas tree and a drive through nativity scene.

Everyone loves nocturnal animals but when you go to see them at the zoo you generally see them during the day when they just wish they could hit the snooze bar one more time. Enter Zoolights at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma Washington. You get to see the animals at night, when they want to be awake, by the light of a gazillion holiday lights, enjoy a musical performance and eat some zoo food. Plus it’s educational! What’s not to love?

Have you ever thought, gosh; if only someone somewhere had something called “Christmas in the Oil Patch” my day would be complete? Then you are in luck because Kilgore Texas celebrates the holiday season with oil derricks draped in lights. The link leads to many other promising events located in the East Texas/Western Louisiana area. Marshall, TX has nine miles of lights and ponies! They also have a parade and an ice skating rink. Natchitoches, LA offers one of the oldest community based revels in the United States. They have tours of homes as well as fireworks and streetcar tours. Shreveport-Bossier, LA has millions of lights, a rose garden, musicals, and even riverboat gambling. Who knew that was part of the holiday tradition?