Cleveland, Chattanooga area holiday light shows are worth the drive

Cleveland, Chattanooga area holiday light shows are worth the drive

December 25th, 2012 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

Jack Holloway began decorating the front of his Cleveland, Tenn., home in 1964. He cut three Wise Men and camels out of plywood, painted them and put a spotlight on them. He has added wooden pieces and lights every year since.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

Jack Holloway fixes the plywood cutout of a sleigh underneath a wooden Santa Claus constructed by his daughter for the holiday decorations in his yard.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

THE HOLLOWAY HOME

• Name and address: Jack Holloway, 1924 Westland Drive, Cleveland, Tenn.

• To get there: Take exit 20 off Interstate 75, bear right onto APD 40 and continue about one mile. You will pass a Coca-Cola plant. At the stoplight, turn left onto Westland. Go a half mile and house is on left.

• Hours: 6-11 p.m. nightly.

• The setup: In the first year, Holloway built and painted three camels and Wise Men from plywood and lit them with a spotlight. He has added characters each year until he now has a full Nativity scene complete with a suspended angel. He has 12 spotlights on wooden figures and 15 strands of icicle lights just on his house. He's built a violin-shaped lake with 75-foot arched bridge that leads to a gazebo, all edged in icicle lights. Around the lake area you can find Santa in a boat and grazing polar bears, also illuminated.

• Light count: Holloway says he has never totaled it, but that in particularly cold years his December electrical bill "has come close to $400."

BRADLEY LIGHTS

• Name and address: Douglas DeLong, 3787 Blue Springs Road, Cleveland, Tenn.

• To get there: Take exit 20 off Interstate 75, bear right onto APD 40 and continue about two miles to the Blue Springs Road exit. Bear left onto Blue Springs, travel one mile to corner of Blue Springs and Old Federal roads.

• Hours: 6-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 6-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

• The setup: Using hardware and software designed for computerized lighting, DeLong has 15 control boxes, each box with 16 circuits. The computer sends commands to the boxes, which turn the lights on and off, making them dance to the music. His house and the yard are decorated with lighted trees, arches and poles, which all flash in time to almost 80 songs. Tune your car radio to 96.9 FM, pull up bradleylights.com/request on your cellphone and select a song. That song will move to the top of the playlist.

• Light count: "At one point I had 100,000 lights, but now I have less, somewhere between 60,000 to 70,000. The 'mega tree' alone uses about 8,000 lights," DeLong says. "Since I've converted to LED lights, it's less expensive. Three years ago, when I was using the older bulbs, the December bill hit $200 extra that month."

After the family meal, the presents are open and the kids have worn out their toys, how will you cap today's holiday celebration?

You might bundle the family into the car and enjoy light shows at homes around the area in formats both high-tech (lights synchronized to holiday songs by computers) and old-fashioned (hum your own carols.)

An example of each is found in Cleveland, Tenn., just a couple of miles from each other. At one, Jack Holloway has been decorating for more than 45 years.

"It used to take me two weeks to put it all up. I'd do it in my spare time after work. I'm 84, so I don't climb up on the roof anymore," he jokes. "This year I put it up in two days with help from my family."

Douglas DeLong began his computerized holiday show -- Bradley Lights -- six years ago.

"I have almost 80 Christmas songs connected to it. While visiting our display, bring up our web page on your cellphone and vote on a song. That song will move to the top of the playlist, so you can hear it while you're here," DeLong suggests.

LIGHTS AROUND THE REGION

Here are some suggestions from Times Free Press readers. See photos at the bottom left.

Downtown

• EPB windows, corner of M.L. King Boulevard and Market Street

East Brainerd

• Lazy Circles Drive in the Council Fire subdivision. Head south on Gunbarrel Road, pass through its intersection with East Brainerd Road and, about 1 1/2 miles past the intersection is Davidson Road. Turn left onto Davidson, then right onto Julian Road and follow that into Council Fire.

• 2410 Daugherty Lane off Standifer Gap Road. A half-dozen homes on Daugherty are lit in multicolor lights.

East Ridge

• 3700 block of Fountain Avenue at intersection with Jason Circle, next to Fountain Gardens Apartments. Motorists can drive up into the display, which circles back out onto Fountain.

n 4404 Louise Ave. off Marlboro Avenue.

Hixson

• 7303 McCormack Drive off Boy Scout Road

• Atlanta Drive in Fairfax Heights, off Access Road

• Dayton Pike, just north of the intersection with Highway 27

North Georgia

• Smitherman Road off Battlefield Parkway in Ringgold; follow Smitherman into Hickory Hills subdivision

• Cleveland Highway in Dalton, just south of North Whitfield Middle School.