Photo Finish: Christmas Lights, Part 2

Last week we concluded part 1 in 2014 at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia. I have traveled a bit since then, and gotten a look at Christmas and holiday lights around the United States. Let me take you across this vast nation of ours, and even take you back in time a bit to the 19th century before finishing with the most hysterically unusual Christmas tree I’ve ever seen!

The Oliver Mansion was completed in 1896 by Joseph D. Oliver, head of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works and designer of the revolutionary chilled plow. It’s a 38-room Romanesque Queen Anne house designed by architect Charles Alonzo Rich. It is maintained by the Northern Indiana Historical Society’s The History Museum. South Bend, Indiana. (Nathanael Miller, 17 December 2017)
Apparently good ole’ St. Nick loves this vintage 1904 Queen Runabout on display in the the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Founded in 1854 as the “Grand Rapids Lyceum of Natural History” it’s one of the oldest museums in the nation, and tells the story of Michigan’s natural history as well as the diverse stories of the diverse peoples who have lived here. Ok, ok, this isn’t exactly a light, but, come on! It’s Christmas! Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Nathanael Miller, 19 December 2017)
A Victorian-era Christmas tree graces the home of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States (in office from 1889 – 1893). During his time as president, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming all became states. Harrison also oversaw the passage of the Land Revision Act of 1891, which enabled Harrison to be the first president to designate national parks (Yellowstone was the first). Harrison is the only president to be the grandchild of a previous president (William Henry Harrison). Indianapolis, Indiana. (Nathanael Miller, 20 December 2017)
“A Carillon Christmas” at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio. The great tree in the background is made up of lights strung over the carillon itself. The park features exhibits and buildings telling the story of Dayton from 1796 to the present day. Among the exhibits house on the park grounds are the Wright Flyer III from 1905, a section and lock from the old Miami and Eerie Canal, and a massive collection of cash registers (the cash register was invented in Dayton in 1879). Dayton, Ohio. (Nathanael Miller, 22 December 2017).
Jamestown, Kentucky, has a small but stylish display in the center of town, including a Christmas tree that is hand-decorated by volunteers. Jamestown, Kentucky. (Nathanael Miller, 07 December 2018)
Northgate Estates Christmas Lights back home in northwestern Florida. These people are IMPRESSIVE! I’m not sure, but I’d bet real money that you can see this house from the International Space Station! Fort Walton Beach, Florida. (Nathanael Miller, 21 December 2018)
Of course, many Florida Christmas lights are likely to incorporate our state’s maritime heritage! Fort Walton Beach, Florida. (Nathanael Miller, 21 December 2018)
Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, my family’s home parish, doesn’t skimp on announcing the Light of the
World! Niceville, Florida. (Nathanael Miller, 25 December 2018)
The “Geek Lights on the Corner” of Antiqua Way in my hometown of Niceville are an elaborate combination of stationary lights and animated lights set to music. If you’re in Niceville during late December, go find the Geek Lights! Niceville, Florida. (Nathanael Miller, 25 December 2018)
The craziest Christmas tree I have ever seen is this one at a favorite restaurant of mine in Albuquerque–the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon. I stopped by the High Noon for dinner while driving through again on my way to Washington State, and promptly wondered if I’d accidentally drank spiked coffee! The front part of the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon was built in 1750, making it one of the oldest structures in old town Albuquerque. For 40 years the restaurant’s Christmas tree has been hung upside down in order to keep from taking up floor space while maintaining a festive atmosphere. The High Noon is also reputed to be a very haunted building. Haunted or not, the food is excellent! Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Nathanael Miller, 03 January 2019)
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, yes, but the prettiest sights you’ll see are the decorations that will be on your own front door! My little tree this year. I’ve decorated with teddy bears on the tree and around the house for years. Silverdale, Washington. (Nathanael Miller; November 30, 2020)

I hope this look around the world from 1998 – 2019 has brightened your holidays…at least a little. From simple lights hanging in a small Spanish village, to 21st century animated displays in a small town in northwest Florida, to upside-down Christmas trees in New Mexico, Christmas and holiday lights are out and about now! Take a moment and go for a drive tonight. Look at the lights and let a bit of hope sneak into your holiday season!


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