The average American spent an estimated $967 on Christmas last year, about $58 of it on decorations.
Some Atlanta homeowners, though, are hardly average. The exceptional ones string up thousands of Christmas lights and spend weeks staging holiday scenes as their gift to the community each year. All they ask in return is a smile and occasionally donations to charity.
You don't have to travel far to have a holiday brush with this glowing greatness. Here are some of metro Atlanta's best residential holiday light displays:
Where: 2008 Palladium Drive, Kennesaw.
When: 6-9 p.m. weeknights and 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, Dec. 1 through Jan 1
What began as a holiday display for then-newborn Riley has become a 55-minute show with more than 45,000 LED lights set to music from Polar Express, Frozen, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more. The music/show can be heard on radio channel 101.3 FM on a loop starting at 6 p.m. Visitors are asked to park on the opposite side of the cul-de-sac and may drop donations to Children's Burn Foundation at the front of the display.
Where: 2929 Mockingbird Circle, Duluth.
When: 6-10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31.
Santa and Mrs. Claus kicked off the grand illumination at 6:30 p.m. Thanksgiving night with events planned every Saturday, with the first of the Saturday shows including Disney/superhero dress-up party. There are 80 new pieces, included an expanded North Pole scene, added to the displays this year. Also new this year is an event Dec. 9 just for families of children with special needs. Details on that event and other free events are on the Christmas House's Facebook page. Visitors are asked to park on neighborhood streets for the walk-through display. Donations of books for Harris Elementary School and non-perishable food for a community food pantry are being accepted.
Where: 224 Oliver Overlook, Dallas.
When: Runs 6-10 p.m. weeknights and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays starting Nov. 25 through Dec. 31
This animated display with a singing Felix the Cat and singing Elton John has expanded to include two neighborhood houses this year. Visitors can tune into 100.9 FM for the sequenced show created from more than 400 channels of computer animation. Parking is available in the cul-de-sac but will become drive through during Christmas week. The family is collecting donations for Paulding Public Safety Inc, a charity that cares for local first responders.
Where: 1833 Smokerise Summit, Stone Mountain.
When: Runs 6-11 p.m. Thanksgiving night until Dec. 31
Different sections of this traditional light display feature Toyland, the Christmas tree forest and more. New this year is a Ferris wheel, a Disney section and Snowman Village. Santa visits amid the 100,000 lights every Saturday and Sunday evening, weather permitting. The family also collects donations for Make-a-Wish Georgia, aiming to raise $1,000 more than last year, at $6,000.
Where: 3699 Autumn Drive, Acworth.
When: Runs 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m-11p.m. Fridays and Saturdays starting Thanksgiving night through Dec. 31
Christmas songs synchronize with more than 100,000 blinking LED lights, Christmas trees and arches, with free hot chocolate and cookies on Saturday nights in December. From design to illumination, the event is a Smoot family affair in honor of the late Debbie Founds, Jeremy Smoot's mother who died from complications of lupus. The family aims to beat the $2,500 it collected in donations for the Georgia Chapter of the Lupus Foundation.
Where: 898 Sandy Creek Road, Fayetteville.
When: 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 1
For 30 years, the Gaddy family has created a 7-acre holiday wonderland complete with a light tunnel and a flying sleigh. The family, who appeared on ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight" last year, is again collecting donations for Toys for Tots and the March of Dimes. A special event Dec. 7 will feature U.S. Marines and Santa, with other events updated on the Facebook page.
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