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Megawatt Christmas Displays

The last weekend before Christmas is a time when many people head out to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season, right in their own neighborhoods. Such extravagant displays are the subject of a new book, "Merry Christmas, America: Megawatt displays across the USA." Author Bruce Littlefield helps to shed a little - or maybe a lot - of light on the subject.

The idea of the book came to Littlefield because he loved Christmas decorating so much. "I was always the kid that tried to decorate his house each year throughout my childhood each year," Littlefield remembered. "So I thought, why not go out and see how the people really do it."

Many times, the decorated houses have a story behind the lights. One couple's tradition of putting enormous amounts of light on their house every year started when they dated. "Chuck asked Sherry when they started dating right before Christmas many years ago if he could put a few lights on her house," Littlefield said. She said yes, and came home to find ten thousand lights on her house. The tradition continues.

Not all houses are over the top. In Durham, North Carolina, there is a simply decorated home. "It shows that simple can be very elegant and lovely," said Littlefield. It may not take as much work as some of the other houses, but it is a delight to see.

Littlefield went across the country in a short period of time looking for the decorated homes. His favorite mega watt displays are in Richmond, Virginia. "There's a guy there named Al Thompson," Littlefield explained. "He's who I call a cheerleader for Christmas." All of Thompson's decorations in his yard are hand made. Littlefield fondly remembers seeing the lights while a bus load of elderly people were visiting. "It was lovely climbing on that bus and seeing their excitement. I think that's my favorite memory."
by Jenn Eaker

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