Colorado Chronicles: The Greeley Grizwalds

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Grizwald’s Light Show

You know that movie “Christmas Vacation” or whatever the hell it is, with Chevy Chase? He tries like crazy to get his Christmas lights going and hilarity ensues? Well, there’s a guy up in Greeley, Colorado that is a real life “Grizwald” without any of the technical snafus and Cousin Eddies to frak things up. I mean this guy, Mike, has it down like James Brown. There are several videos of Mike’s handiwork here. I need to give you a little notice that Mike must live out in the country as there are no city lights or artificial light of any kind to get in the way of his light show. The lights are synced to music, so at times things will be dark for a few seconds or only a few lights will “dance” to the music. Just stick with the video. When the music revs up so do the lights. Please keep that in mind as you view the videos. You won’t be sorry.

On this page of Mike’s web site, you’ll find out some really cool information about his Christmas lights display, such ass, there are over 108,000 (!) lights in the display. You’ll also find out that Mike has won numerous awards as well. Click the link above and check out the rest of the facts about the show. It’s very impressive.

Christmas is a joyous and happy time of year, and it’s guys like Mike and the Picketts, who we featured yesterday, that take the joy and happiness of the yuletide season to new levels. Their hard work and attention to detail are overlooked most of the time, but the smiles they put on children’s faces when the kids see the fantastic display of lights Mike and the Picketts have labored over, make all the time and labor spent each Christmas season on getting the show together well worth it all. Thanks, Mike and thank you Kevin and Linda. You are truly filled with the Spirit of Christmas.


Maine Minutiae: Christmas By the Sea

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Having been in Maine for nearly five years, I’d like to think that I know a little more about the state than when I got here. And I do. But, since starting this blog nearly six months ago, I have learned so much more about Maine, its people and its traditions – including Christmas traditions. Part of the joy of doing a blog is to be able to share what I have learned /am learning with people all over the world.

Maine has about seven bazillion miles of coastline, so it should come as no surprise that many holiday traditions are centered on the ocean, boats and other maritime pursuits. This post is one of those.

Christmas by the Sea in Camden, Rockport and Lincolnville is a prime example of Mainers celebrating Christmas and at the same time, celebrating their heritage which is linked to the sea. Christmas by the Sea takes place this weekend, December 3-5, so you still have a bit of time to insert a visit to Camden, Rockport and/or Lincolnvillle into your schedule. According to the Christmas by the Sea web site, “The Christmas season arrives in Maine’s Midcoast during the first weekend in December, when Santa chugs into the harbor by boat, a parade makes its way down the street, and unique local traditions hit their stride.” I just wonder if the boat on which Santa arrives has a big red light on the front of it, like Rudolph’s nose.

More from the festival web site:

  •  Trish Moroz–-known locally as the “gingerbread lady”–will transport nearly 130 elaborate gingerbread houses that she has been crafting in her Rockport kitchen since last February from her basement to the holiday fair.
  • Retired firefighter Bob Oxton will make his trek up Mount Battie to light the holiday star that can be seen for miles, as he has for four decades.
  • Carolers and horse-drawn wagons will wind through historic downtown Camden, where the mountains meet the sea, and local shops will offer special items that you won’t find at the mall.

 What a great way to combine the celebration of Christmas with local customs and traditions! I appreciate the symbolism of celebrating Christ’s birth and the traditions of the locals and the sea. Somewhere in the Good Book it says something like this: Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Christmas by the Sea not only feeds a man for a day, it also nourishes a man’s soul for a lifetime.

Texas Tidbits: Rudolph the Roughneck

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To truly celebrate Christmas the Texas Way, you have to come up with an idea that represents Texas in a unique way then “Christmas-fy” it. The crew at Lufkin Industries came up with just such an idea many years ago, thanks to L.I. employee, Guy Croom. Croom heard the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by fellow Texan, Gene Autry. Croom’s idea was to take one of Lufkin Industries’ most common products which just happens to represent a part of Texas history and merge it with Christmas to create a Yuletide symbol for the ages. The Lufkin Industries product that Guy Croom “Christmas-fied” was an oil pumping unit, one of the most recognized icons in Texas.  fills us in, “For about four days before Thanksgiving, an electrician installs 1,000 seven-watt light on a selected unit. Another work crew spends another two and a half days putting Rudolph together at his holiday home on the parking lot of Lufkin Mall beside Loop 287 and U.S. 59. Rudolph is actually a fully-operational Lufkin Mark 640 oilfield pump painted red for the season. At his holiday home, he is pulling a 38-foot dump trailer, also made by Lufkin Industries, carrying Santa Claus and a pile of Christmas gifts.Rudolph, naturally, sports lighted antlers and a red nose. The rest of Rudolph’s story can be found here. Hence, a star, a Lone Star as it were, is born. Truly unique and truly Texas. Wanna take a peek? There are a number videos starring Rudolph on You Tube. Rudolph lights up the night skies in Lufkin. Here is a compilation of videos showing Rudolph at work.

I hope that Lukin Industires gave Guy Croom a nice Christmas bonus for creating something that combines the celebration of Christmas and an icon of Texas history into a memorable and long-lasting gift to the people of Texas. I think I can speak for Guy Crooms and Lufkin Industries when I say, Merry Christmas, y’all.

Colorado Chronicles: Christmas Magic in The Springs

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Christmas in the Rockies

Colorado Springs is one of my favorite places in Colorado. Pikes Peak looms 14,000 feet plus over the city to the west and it’s just a couple of reindeer jumps to Santa’s Workshop on the road to Garden of the Gods. The Springs is situated in an environment that is perfect for celebrating Christmas. Moiuntain, snow, Santa’s Worshop…what more could you ask for?

Folks like Kevin and Linda Pickett utilize their Christmas-y setting in Colorado Springs to it’s maximum effect. You see, the Picketts, like many other area residents get into the Christmas Spirit every year, but Kevin and Linda take the season a little more seriously than most other people. Sure they decorate their home for Christmas just like millions of other Americans, with lights, yard displays and other Yuletide gizmos. It’s just that the Picketts use over 100,000 lights and a sleigh full of technically enhanced Christmas scenes. It is absolutely out of this world! They have the lights and various animated scenes in their yard sync’d to music play over their very own low power FM radio station!  Click here to access the Picketts’ web site and see for yourself. I’m as serious as dandruff, it’s nuts! In a good way, of course. Once on their home page, you can click links to a photographic history and evolution of the annual Christmas extravaganza. They even have videos of it as it was featured on the Big 3 TV networks! There are also links to other people in the United States who are what Kevin calls ‘light gurus” and the “above average” displays they have put together.

This is one of the best Christmas things I have ever seen. The web site has some of the most incredible content of any such web site in the world. drop by Kevin and Linda’s site, sign their guest book and take some time to really check out the place. You’ll thank me later.

Maine Minutiae: The Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport

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Lobster Trap Christmas Tree

Thanksgiving, 2010 is in the books and that means it’s now twenty-seven day mad dash to Christmas. All over the country big cities and small towns are all dressed up in their Christmas finery as we await the arrival of good old saint Nick.

One of Maine’s most famous cities, Kennebunkport, is celebrating an almost thirty year old celebration called Christmas Prelude. While Christmas Prelude may be a relative newcomer in terms years, it’s long on tradition and big on beauty.

The first Christmas Prelude was held in 1982 and “included a tree lighting ceremony, a River Tree Arts concert, a chowder luncheon, candlelight caroling and Santa’s arrival by lobster boat. We now have three tree-lighting ceremonies – Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Lower Village of Kennebunk and the lobster trap tree in Cape Porpoise; about a dozen Art and Craft Fairs; approximately 12 venues serving either breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner; programs sponsored by the Historical Society; and 12 programs of music celebrating the season. Santa still arrives by lobster boat escorted by two very special “lobster elves”. The Kennebunkport Business Association’s Christmas Prelude is now in its 29th year. For each of these years, business people have worked with the community to recreate the spirit and joy of the Christmas season.”

Click here to go to the Christmas Prelude web site home page, and you be treated to a beautiful slide show from previous years of the celebration. On that page there are also helpful links about lodging, a schedule of events and contact information for the folks who run the Christmas Prelude. The festivities begin Thursday, December 2, so be sure to check the schedule of events for the day and time of your favorite activity.

Texas Tidbits: A Christmas Display as Big as Texas

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Texans do everything big and celebrating Christmas is no different as Marshall puts on one of the biggest Christmas lights displays in the country. Wonderland of Lights is truly spectacle worthy of all the praise heaped upon it. Since 1987, Wonderland of Lights has attracted millions of visitors from East Texas and all over the world. All these visitors gather in Marshall each year starting on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to see more than 10 million lights on display including the Courthouse on the square in Downtown Marshall. All told, more than 3000 miles of strung lights took more than 8000 man-hours to get ready for this year’s festival. tells us of some of the other activities taking place during the festival, “You will find a variety of entertainment and activities, including live entertainment in the Old Memorial City Hall Auditorium, Church of the Bells, Carriage Rides, Bus Tours to neighborhoods with elaborate decorations and lighted scenes, driving tour route with displays over 24 ft tall, visits with Santa, the annual “lighted” Christmas Parade and an Outdoor Ice Skating Rink.”

This year’s Wonderland of Lights continues through January 2, 2011, so there’s still time to make plans to see one of the most spectacular displays of the Christmas Spirit you’ll find anywhere. It’s truly an experience that everyone in your family will be delighted by. I have been to the Wonderland of Lights festival more than once, and I can tell you first-hand that it’s every bit as good (or better) as advertised. Marshall is 150 miles east of Dallas on I-20, so it’s only a couple hour drive – a drive well worth taking. As an added bonus, it’s only 41 miles from Marshall to the casinos in Shreveport. Just sayin’. Any way you choose it, Wonderland of Lights is a great way to say Merry Christmas !!!

Funky Old Dude Still Married After 52 Years – A Love Story


A Toast to Bob and Ann

A few days ago I wrote this story about some of the things I’m thankful for, like my wife and kids. Let me give you a very brief recap. I met my wife online. We were friends for quite a while before we actually met face to face. The rest is, as they say, history. I have been with Heather for six years now, so I guess those dipsticks that said she and I would last three months have been proven wrong.

A friend of mine, Bob Zeller at Texas Tweeties, can be beat my record by a few years, By a few, I mean he beats me by forty-six years! And he did it the old fashioned way. By way of the United States Postal Service.

I asked Bob just after I posted my story about meeting Heather to tell me the story of how he met Ann, his wife of FIFTY-TWO years! 
In Bob’s own words, here’s his tale of romance. It’s a great read, so please take a few minutes to read aboutan amazing love story that is 52 years young and still kickin’ ass and takin’ names. This is one of the best stories ever told. I promise.

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