On Saturday night, we went out on our annual Christmas lights safari (yes I know these Christmas Bucket List tasks and days of blogging about them are all over the place, the tasks are far easier to do than to record....plus the whole idea of putting the tasks randomly in my advent calendar was an idea ahead of its time....next year, just a list to cross things off from! Some things on the list take longer than a day to do eg. scanning in our past Christmas photos and somethings seem to want to be done together ie. we're planning a day of baking sometime this coming weekend).
We've been going out on Christmas lights safaris ever since the children were born. I'm a sucker for Christmas lights and luckily the rest of my family are too. In Shropshire, in the beginning it was more a safari because we had to 'hunt down' any houses with lights. Only a very few areas used to have good lights, if any at all in the late 90s...plus with Christmas decorations being put up a lot later in the UK than in the USA, usually not until the 2nd or 3rd weeks in December, we used to drive around with the girls in the back of the car collecting points for every house with outside lights or decorations we could spot.
Over here in Phoenix now we're spoilt for choice. Every street has at least 2 or 3 houses out of 6 decorated with lights or inflatables. So our Christmas lights safaris can now be about spotting the best decorated houses rather than trying to spot any at all.
And when I say 'best' you have to understand, as a family we ADORE tacky decorations ;)
In this day and age of apps, of course there had to be one to help us find some of the best displays to hunt down - we use Christmas Light Display Locator by MapMuse:
So for Saturday night we decided to go slightly outside our city limits and picked 5-6 displays that had good ratings or listed special features like the displays being syncronised to music or that you could tune your car radio into an FM channel to listen to their broadcasts:
We've found that the best way to get Goth Child involved in anything we do recently is to hand her our main camera and nominate her official photographer/documenter of the 'event'. If you want to see some more of her photos for school (Photography is one of her courses at High School) she now has a flickr account you might want to check out. But here are some of the photos she took in our 3 hours checking out a few of the many spectacular Christmas light displays:
Top 2 pics at a house where a whole house and several trees and bushes had been lit with 15,000 lights (95% LED so very bright) and synchronised to 17 different popular Christmas songs that could be listened to by tuning the car radio into 99.1FM.
Bottom left, Val Vista Lakes Holiday Mountain. An incredible display with thousands and thousands of lights raising cash and taking food donations for a local food bank. You could walk around the grounds, down by the lake, sit by a fire pit and though we didn't know it before we got up to the top of the 'mountain'....but Father Christmas was there!
Bottom right, a view of a home's back garden of lights across the lake.
Some of the inflatables used in the decor at a whole street of displays. We love the traffic cop giving poor Father Christmas a speeding ticket at bottom right.
The same street of displays, we love the mix of very traditional and contemporary, religious to the Grinch on a rooftop and Sponge Bob and friends......and Harry Potter's Patronus's.....Patroni........oh you know what I mean:
The amount of work that went into these displays was incredible. You couldn't take it all in. All the owners were sitting outside their homes around firepits with family and friends. Many also had their garage doors open to show absolutely spectular man caves, tiki bars etc.
Four different Father Christmas's - love the one perched on the edge of the roof drinking a Starbucks top right....and the one popped out of his box bottom left - in an incredible front garden display clearly the work of a master woodworker, who's garage was open to display his man cave/workshop.
As you can see we had big fun, Melchett did her whirling dirvish act all night, running from one display to another beaming and keeping us entertained - AND we met Father Christmas, and he did a little dance with us :)
It was a very good night :)