Local neighborhoods transform into a dazzling winter wonderland

BY: AMBER REITER

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Flashing lights, smells that grab your immediate attention, and people in weird costumes. No, it isn’t Vegas. It’s Christmas. Christmas is quickly approaching and during this time, it’s hard to look past the hustle-and-bustle of last-minute holiday shopping and remember that there is something truly magical about the holiday season--Christmas lights.

Various neighborhoods in the Long Beach and Orange County areas decorate their streets every year in mind-boggling lights, transforming houses head to toe in dazzling decorations. Looking at these houses seems unreal, like something you’d find out of a storybook or at Disneyland. However, it’s far from fantasy and you can tell by the labor that was put into the houses and every articulate detail.

When looking at these lights, one can’t help but think about the cost of putting it all together. According to a study done by the Chicago Tribune in 2006, electric bills of average houses that feature holiday lights usually only go up about $13 for a month-long display.

Christmas Lights Etc. classifies houses by how much electricity they use and explains how much each of these cost. They measure houses by “Typical Light Usage”, “Typical Heavy Usage”, and “Typical Enthusiastic Usage”, with “enthusiastic” being houses that use an extreme amount of lights and electricity. Light usage houses usually use about $10.75 in electricity, and only about $1.63 if using LED lights. Heavy usage goes up about $115.26 using regular lights and $15.32 if using LED. Enthusiastic light usage can go up a whopping $310.73, but if using LED it goes up by $40.15.

There’s a huge difference in cost when using LED lights as compared to normal Christmas lights. LED lights use 80-90 percent less electricity and last for 100 thousand hours, whereas typical lights only last up to about 3 thousand hours. LED lights are more expensive than other Christmas lights, but the savings in electricity make them cheaper. However, it’s good for any light aficionado to do his or her research before purchasing holiday lights.

Some choose to drive through the neighborhoods and light gaze, but for the ultimate experience it’s better to walk. Many of the neighborhoods that display lights also have little hot chocolate and snack stands where you can pay a dollar or a small donation for a treat. There’s nothing like walking through a winter wonderland with a warm cup of hot chocolate. A neighborhood that is notorious for its lights and hot chocolate stands is one in Orange County. It’s between Brookhurst and Heil, across from the Mile Square Park.

In the city of Fountain Valley, there is a local famous house that features a light show on Stanislaus St. The owners of the house buy a radio frequency that light viewers can tune into, and if you can’t get access to the radio station there’s no worry because the owners also have speakers hooked up to their station. The lights flash and move around in sync to the song playing on their station to create a show of dancing lights. There are other houses in the Southern California area that put on a light show like this one.

Here is a list of locations that are known for their Christmas and holiday lights: Nellie Gail Road, Laguna Hills, Eagle Hills in Brea, El Paseo Street on Lido Peninsula in Newport, Craig St in Orange, Orange County, North Yale in Fullerton, Ashworth Street in Lakewood, Daisy Avenue in Long Beach, and Naples in Long Beach.

These are just a few neighborhoods that have elaborate holiday displays, but there are many opportunities for you to find a block of houses that will be transformed into a world of winter, fantasy, and lights nearby.