Well, we’re getting close.
Christmas is almost here. One of my favorite things about the holidays are the displays of lights and decorations to see in our neighborhoods. Last week Amy Armstrong, her mother, Judy Velthuizen, who is visiting from the Lower 48, and I went searching for fabulous holiday light displays.
We didn’t have much of a plan. It was more of an idea – Amy’s idea. She’s done in the past when she wrote for another local news outlet and it is more of a winging it kind of endeavor just driving through the various neighborhoods in search of lights. I had the car with the heated seats, so I volunteered to drive. I cleaned out the car, put some water the cup holders, a blanket in the back seat for Mom, and I drove to Amy’s house to pick the ladies up and get under way.
So whilst this is pretty much a fly by the seat of our pants sort of excursion, there was one place we knew we would find lights: One of the corners of Harbor Point Loop in Eagle River. Amy wrote about its debut last year and asked the owners if it would be illuminated last Thursday night. The Glidden family gladly said yes and thus the magic began.
When we got there to our first top – the Glidden’s house, the snow began to softly fall from the sky. It was the perfect edition to the happy holiday spectacular blinking in time to the music that greeted us in the Glidden’s yard.
We had a great evening visiting with neighbors, making new friends and snaking our way through town all the way to Thunderbird Falls and back. We even stopped for dinner at Carl’s Jr. It was a blast: three friends, driving around in the snow, looking for lights and taking photos.
Susan Sherburne who had been hauling wood most of the day came out to greet us during our spontaneous stop at the home she and husband, Ben, share on Teal Loop in Thunderbird Heights. Despite our surprise, she was gracious is telling us which years they purchased the myriad of inflatables in their front yard.
When we arrived, we sat in my vehicle for just a moment taking in all of the color. Just then, we watched as Santa tip-toed via projection through the upstairs of the Sherburne home. Amy and I both screamed, “Santa!” like little girls gleefully waiting for the gift he would give. The magic was there.
Just a few doors down on Teal Loop, the Riehle family also have an overflowing of holiday cheer with inflatables and lights that engulf their home. As Amy went to the door to see if anyone was available – because it was her turn to ring the obtrusive door bell – she could see there was a major party going on. Turns out our impromptu stop interrupted the Wasilla Blockbuster office party, but none of the attendees seemed to mind. They bundled up babies and toddlers while some adults skipped donning jackets to come out for a group photo. Again, it was more magic and more holiday laughter as smiles abounded.
When Bill and I lived out in Dillingham, the local co-op, Nushagak Electric, had a holiday light contest each year. One year, I got to ride around and help judge the contest. The judges would bundle up, get in someone’s four-wheel drive truck and we’d drive around looking at what our neighbors put on display. It was amazing what creative people can do with very little in the middle of nowhere!
Back in Eagle River, if anyone asked, I’d say my favorite holiday lights are on Ptarmigan Boulevard, up the hill from my house. I am so lucky to see them right out my front window. That beautiful display is right at the top of my winter good things list.
Speaking of good things, I think the Chugiak – Eagle River area needs a holiday light contest and maybe even our own Christmas parade? What do you think? Next year? Let’s do it!
Let me know what you think in the comments below or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merry Christmas once again from the bottom of my heart.
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones all the best!
Editor’s Note: More photos of our holiday light hunt are available to view here. Thanks to Elizabeth for letting me help her write this piece. I took notes while she did the most important job – driving us around safely and making sure my Mom felt comfortable out and about in the snow.