Holly's Tacky Christmas Lights

About This List

YOU keep this site going
with your submissions of new displays and information.

If you see comparable local displays you would recommend,
please email me at hollyween@hotmail.com with the address
so I can check it out and add it to the list.

This Site and I Have Attained Notoriety!

Moved to New Notorious Page due to length. Ain't that a kick in the pants?

HOLLY Answers a Few Basic Questions

Q: Why do you do this?

A: I get so much joy from viewing Tacky Christmas lights. They bring me excitement and peace at the same time. It's the kind of joy you want to share with others. I guess I'm just a kid at heart.

Q: Why do you call them Tacky?

A: I do not know who started calling extravagant Christmas displays Tacky Lights but, it has become a standard. For my purposes, Tacky is a term of endearment. I love each and every display appearing on this list. To me they aren't really Tacky in the true sense of the word, they're beautiful and creative.

Q: Do the owners give you permission to be put on your site?

A: No. I do not ask permission to include anyone. However, if a homeowner wishes to be removed from the list, I will do so without hesitation.
Read the Open Letter to Homeowners on this site.

Q: How do you determine who gets on the list?

A: Getting on the list is totally based on my subjective opinion.  I know the moment I see it. I do have an Honorable Mentions page for submitted address that don't quite "hit me" as I know they might appeal more to others.

Q: What types of displays do you like best?

A: If I told you that, I'd have an avalanche of submissions from people decorating based on my preferences. (I found out last year that making it on my list is quite coveted by some.) I prefer decorators decide for themselves.

Q: Are you on the list?

A: No.  I do a big Halloween display instead. Below are pictures of my Christmas decorations, mild by comparison.

Me in the Wills Street yard 2006

Hi from Holly,

I'm a Washington D.C. native. I've lived in Fairfax since 1981 and in my current home since 1991.

This is the history of this site.

I discovered my first Fairfax Tacky lights when working in McLean and taking back/neighborhood roads to and from work due to traffic on the main roads. (...and it's only gotten worse but, let's not go there...) There was a home on Pimmit Road that had the most unique decorations. Each item in the yard was a home-made, painted wooden character or scene. Many were animated. As the years went by he continue to add new items every year. Also, the Pimmitt Hills community started having a contest and this brought out more extravagant displays.

Then I found out that the now-defunct Fairfax Journal ran a Tacky Lights issue every year around Dec. 20th. I discovered many more Tacky lights. The joy these lights bring to my heart and soul is overwhelming.

While attending NVCC in 2001 I took a web development class. We had to create a web site as the final project. I decided to create a personal site. As part of that effort I put up a small page about the Tacky lights I knew of and would recommend with photos. I felt good about being able to share the joy of these lights with others. I didn't pay much attention to the page the first two years. I would receive a few email around Christmas and by the second year there were mostly asking for directions.

The third year I added links to Yahoo! Maps for each address. This eliminated the emails requesting directions. Still I received even more email and I wondered how much exposure my page was actually getting. I put a hit counter on it in mid December 2003. The number of hits and emails indicated to me that this list was being used as a legitimate reference to local light displays. I quickly updated it with new photos and information, but I had no new homes to add. I added a commercial Lights Shows recommendations page. I started thinking about how I could make the site more useful.

In 2004 I added a print page of the list that had only addresses, a very brief comment and the map. Some of the display owners have told me they spoke to folks who had this page with them. This confirmed to me that my web page was a local resource. Since I hadn't added any new homes I decided to solicit site visitors to submit homes they would recommend I add to the page. Finally the list started to grow.

Over 2005 and 2006 I've been very busy at Christmas time, driving around checking out homes, taking pictures and updating the lights pages. I added a page for the local Lighted Boat parades, something I love because you stay in one place and the lights come to you. I have wanted to update the pages design and add functionality but didn't have the time.

In 2007 I finally had a reason to update the site. For my final class in pursuit of my B.S. degree in Information Technology from Strayer University, I had to develop a real-world project using a database from start to finish. I choose to move the Christmas pages off my personal web site and make them a stand-alone website. The main pages are database-driven and use server-side scripting. I've also added some user functionality: allowing the visitor to vote for their favorite display; and to rate each display. I'm very pleased with the result.

This site has made me a bit of a local celebrity and I get calls yearly from the media asking for interviews. When I'm out looking at lights I sometimes introduce myself to other light viewers. I get one of two reactions: a puzzled look from those who do not know of the site, or a squeal of excitement followed by lots of bubbly conversation. After one woman asked for something to prove she had met me, I designed a Tacky Lights business card which I now hand out when I meet people. And I've heard some very uplifting stories. One of the best was from an assistant at a nursing home who told me, they rent a bus to take the residents out to see the lights, based on my list. It's true joy when you find out your efforts brighten the lives of others.

I decided in 2008 to purchase a good digital camera for taking pictures of the displays. This should allow me to get new listings up quicker. The site has experienced some abuse of the voting feature with folks voting multiple times. I don't know if I'll get this fixed this year but definitely by the 2009 season.

If you have any ideas as to how I can improve this site, please drop me an email with your suggestions. This site is a public resource and I need your help to keep it alive and growing. If you see a comparable display that is not on the list, please email me the address and a brief description and I'll check it out.

May your days and nights be merry and bright,



Site Design by Holly Zell

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