From the Great Tree at Macy’s at Lenox Square to the antics of the Griswold family in “Christmas Vacation,” the period between Thanksgiving is known for holiday light shows. This year, Fayette County has many spectacular displays that are drawing visitors from far and away to witness the festive shows.
But where did the tradition start?
According to about.com, the tradition dates back to at least the 17th century when candles were placed on Christmas trees. Still, it took nearly two centuries for the tradition to spread throughout Europe.
The website said the first Christmas tree illuminated with electricity was done in 1882 in New York City by Edward Johnson, who created the first string of Christmas lights. By 1900, department stores started using lights for Christmas displays. The tradition took off, and today millions of lights are displayed by shopkeepers, cities and residents who want to capture a bit of the holiday spirit.
In Fayette County, the grandaddy of displays is the Gaddy’s family display on Sandy Creek Road. For 25 years, the Gaddy’s have started unpacking lights in August to have the display ready for Thanksgiving night. The show runs nightly until January 2, and is a Toys for Tots drop-off location. The display shows nightly at their home on 898 Sandy Creek Road from 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. and is free.
In Peachtree City, the Langley family puts on a huge show at 2011 Felspar Ridge in the Morallion Hills subdivision. Tom Langley explained he also has a Halloween show, but then immediately starts preparing for the Christmas event. The show usually runs until 10 p.m. during the week, and until 11 p.m. on weekend nights. Langley has been known to direct traffic when the show gets too crowded, and his home is also a Toys for Tots drop-off location.
But the show that has garnered the most nation alattention this year is the Burton family display at 165 Stafford Court, just south of downtown Fayetteville. Robert Burton, who serves as band director for Booth Middle School, has been producing an antimated show at his home since 2009. The show features different Christmas scenes, but one scene in particular has caused a sensation.
Burton, who hails from Alabama, put up a scene this year featuring the memorable end of the Auburn-Alabama football game. For years, Burton wanted to have a scene featuring the Auburn fight song, but could not find orange light bulbs. With the advent of RGB bulbs, Burton is now able to create the correct orange and blue, and the video of the lights set to the radio call of the last play of the game has gone viral.
Burton said he found the Auburn radio call from a tweet by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who attended Auburn. After he put up a video of the display, the views grew slowly from 100 to more than 296,000. The display has been featured in publications around the country.
“People in Georgia don’t understand that if you are from Alabama, you have to pick a side. I had to do something, because we just beat Alabama,” he added.
For more information on his display and hours, visit, http://burtonchristmaslights.weebly.com.
The Dietz family warmly invites you to come by their house in the Highgrove subdivision to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas.
With 36,000 dancing, flashing, and twinkling lights drawing 120+ amps and connected to over half-a-mile of extension cords, you are sure to enjoy this year’s show.
The show runs nightly from 6-10pm from Dec. 7 – 28th.
On cold nights, you can listen in the comfort and warmth of your own car by tuning your FM stereo to 99.1, or you can come on your golf cart when the evenings are pleasant.
For optimum viewing and as a courtesy to others, please turn off your headlights.
Please don’t forget to bring some non-perishable foods to donate to a local charity, Real Life Center, serving needy families in the Fayette and Coweta County area.
The display is at 205 Cottonmill Court, Fayetteville