December 5th, 2013
Posted By:

Christmas lights take me back to the innocence of my childhood, to a time when my parents would gather me and my five siblings and put us in the station wagon with winter coats over our pajamas and we would ride around the neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights displayed on other people’s houses.
Did you do that too?
One of the houses on the Richmond Tacky Lights Christmas tour
Photo courtesy of





















Those were the days when Christmas lights were larger than they are today — no LEDs back then — and they only came in blue, green, red, yellow and cream.  Pink and turquoise were nowhere to be found and I don’t remember anyone ever having only white lights on their Christmas tree or on their house as is popular today.

It’s a warm and cozy memory for me, made more dramatic because we would view the lights in the darkness of night and everything seemed magical from the safety of a car with your parents in the front seat.  Those were also the days when there were no seat belts so the babies would be lying in a carry-all and we would giggle and wiggle and slide around on the seats and press our faces to the cold glass of the car window and pick our favorite lights.
Today, my 23-year-old son absolutely adores Christmas lights!  There can never be enough Christmas lights for him and he especially loves a section of houses in Maryland that we pass on the way to his grandparents house where the neighbors are in competition with each other to see who can put up the most lights on the houses and in their yards.  I can’t imagine what their electrical bill looks like.

Another house on the Richmond Tacky Lights Christmas tour
Photo Courtesy of


My son now lives in Richmond, VA and yesterday he tweeted about the Tacky Lights Christmas tour in Richmond, VA which of course is right up his alley.  I’m sure he will check out a few of the over-the-top displays which are part of a tradition started in Richmond in 1985 when local DJ Mad Dog Gottlieb booked a Winn bus and took a select group of Richmonders on a “tacky lights” tour of 10 to 12 houses.
Who knew that Richmond took such pride in its’ creative abundance of Christmas lights?Initially, houses needed a minimum of 10,000 lights.  Then it was decided that houses needed up to 20,000 and 30,000  Now, houses must have a minimum of 40,000 lights to be considered as part of the tour.  Can you imagine how long it takes for people to string this stuff up?But what is tacky to one person is exciting and beautiful to another.

I can’t help but think that there are lots of families out there this year creating their own memories by gathering their young children into their cars at night, riding around to ooh and ahh at the blinking, twinkling, multi-colored unbelievable houses full of Christmas Cheer!

Another house on the Richmond Tacky Lights Christmas tour
Photo Courtesy of
Share this post:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like: