I want Christmas lights. None of this “one-candle-in-a-window-pretty-wreath-spotlight” elegant stuff. I’m after “wrap the trailer park, half-a dozen Santas, three Nativity scenes, outfit the dog in a reindeer suit” displays.
Fortunately, I’ve found a great website called Ugly Christmas Lights to help my with my quest. This site allows users to post pictures of their findings. Of course, I’d have to travel all over this US and farther to see some of these, so the site only gives me an idea of what can be.
Locally in our area, we have several hotbeds of luminary lunacy. Our traditional search would take us to Berea on the west side of town, but lately those lights have not been as spectacular. I’ve been told that the town of Pelzer is the best place to go for lights, but I haven’t been down there. Neighborhoods in Fountain Inn and Simpsonville have very nice displays, but theirs tend more toward lovely elegance. I’ve found a few houses on the Eastside of Greenville, mostly concentrated around Northwood Middle School.
Then there are the classics – ones that rate at least regional, if not national attention. Of course, there is McAdenville just over the border in North Carolina, a town that wraps anything in lights not fast enough to run away. Traffic backs up for miles at the town’s exit on I-85. It’s even rumored that the local power company subsidizes the expense during the Christmas holidays. There is also Tiny Town in Easely, which I have yet to visit, and the front of Bob Jones University is pretty gaudy, but then, that could be said for any time of the year for them.
While we were in Tucson, we had friends that live in the community of Winterhaven. This neighborhood takes their name to heart, decorating just about everything, much like McAdenville. They closed the neighborhood streets to all but foot and horse-drawn carriage traffic. They do the same thing for Halloween. I would hate to live in one of these neighborhoods, not just because of the traffic an annoyance, but also because the extreme pressure to come up with a display. I think I would just revolt and not put up any lights, or, better yet, just put up mirrors to reflect the neighbors.
So, if you’re just starting you hunt for lights, what should you look for? First, skip the upper-crust, hoity-toity neighborhoods. Most of them are so far in debt that they can just barely afford their mini-mansions, much less decorate them at Christmas. Those that can just don’t, for whatever reason. Look for neighborhoods around schools. Most of these have young children who really love the lights, and pressure their fathers to go overboard with the displays. Look for close-knit, somewhat isolated communities. Often these folks usually can’t afford much for Christmas, but they still find time and resources to spread a little joy for the rest of us.
Finally, speaking of close-knit, isolated communities, a catalog of tacky lights would be incomplete without mentioning Stewart’s Lake, in upper Laurens County. The Stewart Family lived at the end of a dirt road, with the parents in a small frame house next to a fishing lake, and the offspring living in mobile homes along the road. Everything was wrapped in lights – boats, cars up on blocks, RVs, flagpoles, etc., etc., etc. They would take gallon milk containers and place them over the old-fashioned large lights and run them around the perimeter of their yards, like luminarias. It was truly a site to behold, and you could see the glow for miles.
See also, Channel Four – Holiday Lights listing