Welcome to the first annual holiday lights guide from the ECHO News.
Our Alaska sky is certainly dark, but when it comes to holiday lights, that darkness is an advantage. The crispness of bright white and the depth of colors of the rainbow provide a cheery contrast throughout our local neighborhoods. It’s worth a drive around with the family. Grab your hot beverage of choice and turn on the holiday music.
If our list missed your home, please, please, please send us a photo so we can add it to our online collection: [email protected]. We apologize, but want to include your cheer as well.
To start, we have a short disclaimer: Be careful in these neighborhoods. Drive slow and watch for kiddos or pets. It is slick. Be patient as others might be out doing the same thing.
And now for the 2016 list:
The Ptarmigan Lighted Forest:
This most definitely is the most beautiful site in all of Chugiak-Eagle River. Yes, I purposely used the word “most” twice. I call it the colored forest, although it isn’t a wooded area you can walk through. It is located on a private drive off Ptarmigan Blvd near Ravenwood Elementary School in Eagle River. Coming from the school, it is a right hand turn off Ptarmigan on to a drive marked “private.” The colored forest featuring breath-taking purples, white, green and blue – oh, wonder if they are fellow Seahawks fans based on the last two colors – is down at the bottom. You will know you have reached it because the home is circled by a fence. I am told the owners are incredibly nice folks, but please respect their boundaries if you drive down there. Also, if you see other cars, give folks room to come back out. Space is limited there. This can also be viewed from across the valley on Hiland as well and other spots in the Eagle River Valley looking back toward Eagle River itself. You won’t necessarily need binoculars, but those will help with more detailed viewing. It is spectacular. Viewing it filled me with awe and thanks.
The Glidden Family Christmas:
Mike and Traci Glidden turn their home tucked away at one of the corners of Harbor Point Loop in Eagle River into a light festival that even Clark Griswold of the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie would have to give kudos to. In fact, the accompanying music for the show begins with the introduction theme song from the movie classic. There isn’t an eve or a side or a patch of the fence on the front deck that isn’t covered in lights. Every shrub or tree in their front yard is decorated with lights that are synchronized to music Mike broadcasts from his home radio station. The Glidden’s say the effort is their gift to the community. They began it last year and this year made more than $1,000 in improvements to the show. The large wood tree covered in multi-color lights is completely re-strung for this year. Traci gives Santa a helping hand by corresponding back to children that leave letters in the specially decorated mailbox. As of Dec. 15, she had written more than 40 letters.
The corner of the Old Glenn and W. Lake Ridge Drive:
For years, this had been my favorite. It features hand-made icicle lights hanging from the eves and trees decorated up in green lights to give Mother Nature a colorful helping hand in the winter months. A colorful, “Merry Christmas” hangs on the side of the house facing W. Lake Ridge Drive and is large enough to clearly read from the nearby fire station. Large white-lit stars are centered in the narrowing space of the eves. Do enjoy!
Teal Loop in Thunderbird Heights subdivision:
The drive is worth the color. This housing subdivision located off the Old Glenn Highway near the access to the Thunderbird Falls hiking trail holds an annual light competition, thus increasing the amount and variety of displays. For some reason, the folks living on Teal Loop tend to go all out. Between the Riehle and Sherburne families living just a few doors apart on Teal Loop, there are more lights and inflatables than there is yard in the front of each home. Both yards have a polar bear – the Riehle’s polar bear is guarding an igloo and the Sherburne’s is standing up waving. The Riehle’s have a large inflatable Santa with a countdown and the Sherburne’s have a student driver Santa with crashed reindeer. The Riehle’s have a tree posted on the front second-floor balcony that looks more like a guiding light for visitors with its gorgeous intense lights. The Sherburne’s get a regular visit from Santa every few minutes via a projection screen that got the little girl in my screeching, “Santa,” when I first saw it. Several of the other homes on Teal Loop have lovely light displays as well including the popular “Star Gazer” that broadcasts various green and red lights across the front of the house or a tree depending on where it is aimed.
Rosser Drive in Powder Ridge:
Don’t miss this one. Several homes with simply classic looks. There are plenty of reindeer; homes covered in color lights and one that is outlined in the elegant bright white.
My pick for the best Nativity:
There are several that are beautiful reminders of the religious aspect of this time of the year. Each has its own charm and ability to tender the heart. There is something about the Nativity in front of the First Baptist Church in Eagle River at the corner of Monte and the Old Eagle River Road. It is made of wood and is simple in its design – perhaps an unintentional, yet effective, reminder that Christ was a carpenter before He became the Savior of the World as the Biblical story goes. Either way, there is plenty of parking out front giving folks the opportunity to gaze from the warmth of their vehicle. Moms and Dads wanting to take young children to see a Nativity might want to opt for this one with its safe parking and easy walk-up access.
Again, my apologies if your fantastic lights aren’t included here. I didn’t get to every street, but am happy to include your photos in the gallery below. Merry Christmas.