Christmas is right around the corner in three months, but readers are already wondering: will there be Tacky Lights this year with the pandemic?
For the most part, the answer is yes. Many traditional homes on the Tacky Lights list, compiled by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, will light up again.
But one of the biggest and brightest attractions on the list, A Phifer Christmas on Asbury Court, has decided not to light up like it has in the past.
“It’s a very difficult decision to make. We’ve been talking about it since March,” said Bobby Phifer, owner of 9604 Asbury Court. “We are worried [are] going to get wrong answers. Some people are really crazy. They have been bringing their children here for years. But what if someone catches COVID-19 from here? And boom, we’re a hot spot? »
Phifer has been decorating his mother’s house at 9606 Asbury since 1974. When he bought the house next door, he started lighting it too. Typically, Asbury Court has over a million and a half lights during the holidays, with crowds queuing in the streets to take a look at the overdone, old-school display.
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But this year, the coronavirus has changed things. The Phifers usually sell hot chocolate on site to help pay the electric bill, but they knew they wouldn’t be able to do that this year.
“Because of the way our display is set up, people love getting out of their cars and looking at all the detail on the lawn,” Phifer said. “And kids like to touch it.”
The Phifers are also now primary caregivers to three grandchildren and are concerned about their health and well-being.
Although it won’t do the big megawatt display it’s known for, Phifer said it would light up the giant trees in every yard and people could walk on the lawn and watch the tree, which didn’t never been allowed before because of lawn decorations. Her daughter also plans to decorate the dolls’ room.
“It’s heartbreaking for me not to light up. But I have to think about the safety of my family, my neighbors and the general public,” Phifer said.
Chuck and Sherry Hudgins at 6444 Little Sorrel Drive in Mechanicsville also won’t light up this year due to a serious illness in the family. Their house is known as “Christmas Fantasyland” with a row of reindeer on the roof. Their home was featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” last year.
This yearhowever, many other Richmond-area owners plan to light up.
Al Thompson at 9716 Wendhurst Drive in Glen Allen, one of the most recognizable homes on the Tacky Lights list and the first Richmond-area home to win “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” will light up as usual.
“You can’t stop Christmas,” Thompson said. “If people can go to Walmart, they can stand on the street and look at the Christmas lights.”
The Whitlocks at 8720 River Road plan to have their drive-in holiday exhibit where people will stay in their vehicles.
Mr Christmas at 2300 Wistar Court plans to don his light-up costume and greet people visiting his decorated West End home, as he has done in years past, although he is unlikely to wear a mask. He said he didn’t believe in wearing them.
Marc Leslie of the Oregon Hill Christmas House always plans to light up with his kitsch and whimsical display.
He said his home at 408 S. Laurel St. usually doesn’t draw crowds and he isn’t worried about overcrowding.
“It’s outside, and I have to assume everyone knows [the importance of] social distancing and masks,” Leslie said.
He said: “This year, more than ever, I know I need it. I feel like in a year where people have been let down over and over again, not having the soft, soft glow of the lights would just suck.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch will release its Tacky Lights list with a full list of homes that light up for the holidays near Thanksgiving.