Tacky light tours are a tradition that a lot of families, friends, and coworkers do together. Sometimes alcoholic beverages and Stretch Hummer Limo’s are involved and sometimes you’re just with your mom, dad, and brother/sister. This year we have no shortage of locations with outstanding displays of creativity for the holidays. Check out the list that RTD put together below.
1. 1411 Pennsylvania Ave.: Brett Aliotti dresses up as the “Live Grinch” on certain nights and has become a Richmond tradition. He will be outside his house, weather permitting, on Dec. 9 and 10, Dec. 16 and 17 and Dec. 23 from 7 to 10 p.m. Even if you miss him, you’ll still get to see his house, decorated with 40,000 lights, many Grinches, and the Abominable Snowman. If you do see the Grinch in person, make sure to get a much-coveted selfie.
2. 9716 Wendhurst Drive: You may have seen Al and Esther Thompson’s Wendhurst Avenue home on TV. They’ve been featured on “CBS Sunday Morning” and “NBC Nightly News.” This year, they’re competing for $50,000 on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” Their house is super-bright with 170,000 lights. As Al Thompson likes to say, you can almost see it from outer space. New this year, all the decorations are 100 percent homemade. And there are plenty of new cutouts to look for, such as Pokémon Go, running reindeer and Christmas at the Zoo, a 10-foot tall cutout of zoo animals. Thompson can often be found in front of his house, talking to people amid the glow of his super-watt display.
3. 9328 Coleson Road: The Wrays’ home is a labor of love that Jeff Wray has been decorating for 15 years. He has 90,000 lights as well as 300 blow molds and inflatables on the front lawn. “I would call this Funland,” Wray said. “It’s fun to see. And we’re all kids at heart.”
4. 2503 Pine Grove Drive: The Siceloffs’ gingerbread house with more than 30,000 lights, blow-ups and M&M characters is a popular stop. Shrek is taking a break this year due to damage. But fear not, a few doors over at 2511 Pine Grove Drive, the neighbors go all out for tacky lights and have a new 4-foot-tall Chewbacca that talks. Yes.
5. 2334 Thousand Oaks Drive: Turn toward Thousand Oaks and you’re headed into serious Tacky Lights country. The Preissner home — one block from 2300 Wistar Court — is covered with 63,000 lights. This house is beautifully decorated and outlined in lights with a star on the chimney. The trees and bushes are decked out with various colored lights and a bright sleigh is pulled by four reindeer. Karen Preissner says she’s a little behind this year, but expects to have the house fully lighted by Dec. 10.
6. 2300 Wistar Court: Now you’re in the heart of Tacky Lights town. This is the home of Mr. Christmas, aka Frank Hudak, who has been decking out his house with an over-the-top display for the past 43 years. “The Christmas House,” as he calls it, takes 4 miles of wiring and 75,000 lights. His display has helped raise $110,000 for the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls over the years. Most nights, Mr. Christmas himself can be found out front in his lighted suit, greeting visitors.
7. 9215 Venetian Way: Venetian Way backs up to a lake and uses the reflective surface to its advantage. It’s a beautiful sight and this year’s display is especially lovely with different shades of blue and white lights. Check out the Thediecks’ home from Maybeury Drive, which is the only way to see the lights. They are aiming for 100,000 lights this year that reflect in the lake.
8. 9625 Peppertree Road: The Peppertree Road house has a real fire truck in the yard plus the Grinch and reindeer firefighters on the roof. FDNY 343 is also emblazoned on the roof as a tribute to the firefighters killed in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. New this year, the Joneses will have three trains running on the back deck, double the lights on the tree and a new 12-foot wreath on the roof. The family can often be found in the yard and will hand out plastic firefighter helmets to kids. “It’s gotten to the point where we’ve seen young people who came as kids bringing their kids,” Bill Jones said. “We’ve been doing this for 20 years. It’s a real tradition now.”
9. and 10. 9604 and 9606 Asbury Court: Save Asbury Court for the grand finale. These two houses are pretty much the pinnacle of tacky lights with more than a million lights. Most noticeable are two huge trees — at 60 and 80 feet tall — wrapped entirely in lights. The houses’ displays are jaw-dropping, with hundreds of little Christmas curiosities to see, as well as an animated doll room off the garage. Be sure to park and get out, you’ll want to see this up close. Rose Phifer, 80, has been lighting up for 42 years. Her son Bobby bought the house next door and took over doing both displays. “We’re like the fireworks at the end of the tour,” he said. Wrap up your Tacky Light tour with a bang at Asbury Court.