|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,