Light It Up, Up, Up: Holiday Displays Around Town And Tips For Decorating

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What gets you in the holiday spirit? Is it browsing the aisles of a local store for gifts or savoring the creamy taste of eggnog? For many families, enjoyment comes from traveling the area scavenger-hunt style in search of the best lights.

Below are some our recommendations for finding holiday displays near Severna Park, along with some tips if you want to channel your inner Clark Griswold and string your own lights for all to see.

Where To See The Best Lights

The last few years, the neighborhoods of Chartwell and Brittingham have received rave reviews for their bright displays of holiday cheer. One house on White Oak Road, near Severna Park High School, is especially well decorated. Santa and his reindeer patrol the rooftop. Down below, the Grinch and the Abominable Snowman are just a few of the characters populating a winter wonderland illuminated with trees and candy canes.

The homeowners on 207th Street in the Green Haven community in Pasadena are especially active during the decorating season. The most popular Pasadena exhibit, though, belongs to Jerry Sterling Sr. at 703 Pasadena Road. Located down the street from the police station, the house engages spectators year after year with its array of creations: snowmen, a dancing Santa and a nativity scene. Sterling’s house has a semicircle driveway for easy access and is usually decorated from Thanksgiving to early January.

Glen Burnie has no shortage of lights. The house at 528 Delmar Avenue is covered top to bottom, left to right, with red and blue lights. An inflatable snowman and brightly lit reindeer greet visitors near the entrance, which is flanked by a giant illuminated American flag. The display is open December 1-31 from 5:30pm to 10:00pm.

Ole Fashion Christmas is a display with miniature Santas, nutcrackers and a mailbox for letters to Santa. The display collects donations for Aid Our Veterans and Toys For Tots. Families can find it at 632 New Jersey Avenue in Glen Burnie.

A bit farther away, at 7881 Walnut Grove Road in Severn, is a display that used to be located on Century Vista Drive in Arnold. Lights at Elmhurst will open after Thanksgiving, treating passersby to animated lights synced with music. While tuned to 88.3, guests can watch the winter-themed exhibit flash before their eyes.

Willow Oak Flower & Herb Farm, located at 8109 Telegraph Road in Severn, is bedecked with flashy gazebos, polar bears, a gingerbread house and forest animals. People can see this glittery showcase from 4:30pm-8:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays from November 23 to December 22. Entry is $5 for children 15 and younger and $7 for adults.

Sponsored by the SPCA of Anne Arundel County, Lights on the Bay in Annapolis turns Sandy Point State Park into a gorgeous site. About 70 animated and stationary displays illuminate the two-mile scenic drive along the Chesapeake Bay. Popular pieces include a colonial village inspired by historic Annapolis and one of Navy midshipmen tossing their hats in the air. New this year are two themes: North Pole Village and Enchanted Fairy Tales.

Lights on the Bay goes from November 17 to January 1 from 5:00pm-10:00pm. Admission is $15 per car, $30 per large passenger van or mini bus, and $50 per bus. For more information on Lights on the Bay, call 410-268-4388.

Tips For Doing Your Own Lights

Ace Hardware has some helpful tips for adorning your house, roof or trees with lights this season. First, determine how many light sets you will need. Measure eaves, railings and windows with a tape measure. For trees and shrubs, estimate 100 lights for every 1.5 feet of shrub. If you’re reusing lights, plug in and test them before you hang them. Check for frayed cords and replace those sets. Unplug the strand before removing broken or burned-out bulbs, which can be replaced using needle-nose pliers. Make sure to use gloves.

What type of supplies will you need? Let’s look at three areas: outside the house, the roof and inside the house.

Mini light sets are ideal for small trees and shrubs that lose their leaves. For evergreen trees that are densely covered, use bigger bulbs, like C6, C7 or C9. Net lights are good for shrubs or tree trunks. Choose lights and extension cords that blend in with the background. By choosing LED lights, you can use fewer extension cords in your setup.

No matter what you’re hanging, always start with the male end of the plug at the base. When decorating a tree, wind lights up from the trunk. Starting with the lowest branch, veer out to the tip and back. Leave wide spacing as you wrap on your way up the branch, because as you come back down, you’ll wind in between your first group of lights. Follow this pattern for each branch.

Inside, mini lights or the fatter C6 lights are great for outlining windows. Want to create a fuller look? Wind the lights around an evergreen garland or add festive accessories like a lighted star or flameless candles. Use adhesive hooks or garland hangers if you don’t want to mar your wall or trim.

Never use indoor lights outdoors. Outdoor lights have a heavier-duty wire coating and a seal on the bulb socket. This shields the electrical components from moisture and weather.

For the roof, use clips that are spaced about eight inches apart to prevent strands of lights from drooping. You’ll want bulbs that are bright and close together so the light overlaps. C7 and C9 bulbs outline roof ridges, eaves, dormers and gables. Also popular are icicle lights; the dense cascades of light look especially elegant lining gabled roof lines or long eaves where the real icicles would naturally form.

As you string the lights and the clips and connect them, be sure you wind up with the plug end of the light strand at the point you’ll connect to your extension cord socket. You don’t want to repeat the whole process.

Lastly, here are a few safety tips. You don’t want to overload an electrical outlet. Follow the instructions on the strands of lights so you know how many can be connected together and plugged into a single outlet.

When working on the roof, ensure the ladder is positioned one-quarter of its extended length of the house. For a 12-foot ladder, that means moving the ladder three feet from the house.

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