Have you ever had that neighbor that spends an exorbitant amount of time and inevitably money preparing holiday decorations? We’re among the folk all too familiar with zany holiday decorators who light up the block and become a destination spot for locals and just like you, we’re wondering how our neighbors compare to the greatest holiday displays in the country.
Before moving in 2012, Richard Holdman had the best display in town for years, lighting up his street with one of the coolest light shows ever and generating hundreds of millions of views on viral videos of the show. Just looking at the numbers, the home featured a gradual increase to 150,000 lights, 7,000 extension cords, and 215 different software channels over the years. But Holdman swears that thanks to animating his display, allowing him to only have to power 30% of it, it only cost him “$150 worth of electricity… for the season which is less than running the AC in the summer.” Not even considering the cost of the display is, in the few years the house ruled over Christmas displays everywhere, the Holdman family raised s nearly unbelievable $40,000 for Utah’s Make-A-Wish Foundation. Even though he no longer sets up his famous display, he created his own lighting company and now travels the world setting up commercial displays. Talk about a hobby that pays for itself.
Since 1973, the Garabedian family has carried on a tradition of turning their house into a Christmas destination every year The Bronx display uses up to 800 amps of electricity. Some suggestive calculations using New York City’s unforgiving electricity costs means it can cost the Garabedian family $125 per night. Given the fact that the display runs from Thanksgiving to January 6th, that’s a total of $5,000 just to pay the electric bill, never mind the cost of the 170 mannequins that comprise the new-age nativity scene that features the usual characters of Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus but also works in Michael Jackson and Donald Duck. All of the mannequins are dressed in customized garb that the family designs themselves. Though there’s no doubt the family has spent a pretty penny on this display over the past 40 years, the family insists it does not accept any donations and if visitors insist on throwing money at the display, it is donated to charity.
Amongst the temperate weather and palm trees, the Hyatt family has built a tradition of making an incredible display every year in their Fort Lauderdale home. It has been a tradition for 20 years and uses over 200,000 lights. Last year, the home won the honor of hosting the country’s largest residential nativity scenes as it spans 1,836 square feet. Aside from the sprawling nativity scene, the display features Santa’s workshop, a Ferris Wheel of lights made for the stuffed animals and dolls in its seats, and a walk path of life-size lollipops honoring Florida colleges and the Florida Gators. The family has said that their electricity bill goes up $1,500 thanks to the incredible amount of lights, but that otherwise expenses are fairly minimal thanks to their ability to collect props over time as well as hand-make many pieces.
The Paradowski family combines an astounding 115,000 number of lights, 4 miles of extension cords, 80 lighted candy canes and more with Christmas music to make its display one of a kind. But the house really stands out because it features custom Christmas music from Grammy nominated songwriter Judy Pancoast. Any Christmas display that can boast customized music from a Grammy nominated artist wins among most competitors. What’s even cooler that the family doesn’t need an ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS. Using their display over the years, they have raised $2,800 for their favorite charity, the ALS Association of Georgia.
Another one on our list with its own Yelp page, the Balian house is a gem that lights up Los Angeles. Owners of the Balian ice cream company, the family’s already interesting-to-look at pink mansion features tens of thousands of lights across the 3 1/2 acre property. The property is next to Christmas Tree Lane, another popular Californian attraction that features a row of wonderfully decorated large cedar trees. There have been many houses that have claimed to be worth the nickname of the “Real Griswold House” after the National Lampoon classic, but visitors have attested that this house really earns the comparison.