Holidays

It’s your last chance before Christmas to take in Wichita’s best drive-by light displays

Giant reindeer are the featured attraction of Wichita’s latest Christmas display

"Reindeer Road" in west Wichita, features nearly 20 giant reindeer lined up along Firefly Street near 119th and Central. The neighborhood is already well known for its "Candy Cane Lane" display.
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"Reindeer Road" in west Wichita, features nearly 20 giant reindeer lined up along Firefly Street near 119th and Central. The neighborhood is already well known for its "Candy Cane Lane" display.

Wichita loves its Christmas lights.

It loves to hang them — and it really loves to gawk at them.

But when it’s time to drive around and check out the best ones each holiday, it can be hard to know exactly where to point the car.

Here at The Wichita Eagle, we’ve been tracking the city’s best Christmas light displays for years, publishing guides and routes and photos of the most amazing creations that can be seen from the car. The same addresses appear over and over, though their displays seem to grow every year.

To help you plan a night of holiday light gazing, we offer this list of the Wichita’s can’t-miss drive-by holiday light displays — displays so breathtaking, they would make Clark Griswold shed a tear. We started with 15, then upped it to 20. Now, we’ve added even a few more.

The list includes one classic charity display, the city’s sweet vintage setup, and several overachieving home displays, including one created by a movie star.

If you think I missed one, let me know by sending me an e-mail.

15. The lights at Kennedy Plaza: They’re a little old school, but that’s part of their charm. If you’re a longtime Wichitan, you probably have lots of memories of seeing the saluting soldiers, waving Santa and swimming dragon that keep watch in front of Century II on Kennedy Plaza each holiday season. They’ve back this year, along with a giant decorated tree, and for some reason, they look brighter than usual.

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The snowman lights are setup outside of Century II Expo Hall on the north side of the building. (December 14, 2016) File photo

14. Marshall Family Christmas Lights, 620 N. Stratford Lane, near Central and Rock: This display, run by Mark Marshall and his big family since 2007, covers their large home with 100,000 dancing Christmas lights choreographed to songs such as “Oh Holy Night.” It’s so bright, you might need your Christmas shades. Note that the Marshalls always set out a box at the curb to collect money for charities.

13. Four-acre display at 10813 SW Tawakoni Road, Augusta: The Socha family has been putting up its giant Augusta display, which is spread out over about four acres, for the past 14 years. They use more than 65,000 lights to create static and animated scenes, like Santa and his reindeer flying through the sky, a penguin slide and a fire-breathing sea monster. And the family has made some additions this year, including a 30-foot green tree made of lights. To find it, head east on 54 toward Augusta and turn right onto Tawakoni Road, which is just past the Augusta Municipal Airport.

12. CLAUS, Inc. 1841 S. Glenn, near Harry and Seneca: These homeowners have set up a “North Pole Express Substation,” and their setup features lights and a big sleigh in the yard. On certain nights, Santa himself is there to pose for pictures. It’s open Dec. 1 and then Thursdays through Saturdays through Dec. 22. It’s also open on Dec. 23.

11. Christmas on Crestline, 914 N. Crestline, near Central near Maize: This display features a sweet mid-century modern home covered in more than 80,000 neon-colored lights that dance to music found on the FM dial. It also usually has a hologram projected onto it that makes it appear that Santa is busy at work inside. New this year: An 8-foot-long mural where people can stick their own faces where Santa’s and the elves’ should be.

10. Christmas Lights on Gold Street, 5336 S. Gold, near 55th Street South and Seneca: This display, which has been going every year since 2009, gets a little bigger every Christmas. It has more than 13,000 dancing Christmas lights set to music on the FM dial. The display was first started by Matt Robertson when he was a senior in high school

9. Lights on Longview Lane, 3805 Longview Lane, near Kellogg and Hillside: This display, which Clayton Gosset has been putting up for the past 12 years, is made of more than 50,000-lights that dance set to music that can be found on the FM dial. What sets it apart is that it can be seen from Kellogg when you’re nearing Hillside and also that it’s always set to some pretty trippy electronica Christmas music.

8. Christmas at the McKinneys, 1462 N. Coolidge: One of the most popular Christmas stops in Wichita is in North Riverside, where drivers can find a display that has been put up for the past 21 years by Steve McKinney. The display encompasses both McKinney’s and his next-door neighbors house and features at least 100,000 lights that dance in sync to music you can hear by tuning in to a radio station on your FM dial.

7. North and South Pershing in College Hill: Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood has a lot of festively decorated houses, and it’d be worth your time to drive around the area for an hour or so. But your drive should definitely include the 100 block of N. Pershing, which is always famously lined with multicolored sticks of lights in an array of colors planted in the ground. Just across Douglas, the 100 block of South Pershing is always lined with luminaria. Just follow the glowing curb-level lights until you’ve seen enough.

6. The Arc’s Lights, Douglas and St. Paul: This attraction, formerly known as Lights on St. Paul, is a drive-through display with more than a million lights that includes a rainbow tunnel, a nativity scene, a fire-breathing dragon and soldiers standing at attention. This is the display’s 22nd year. It’s open from 5:30-9 p.m. through Dec. 28, though it will stay open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and Dec. 19, 20 and 23, and until 11:30 p.m. Christmas Eve). A $10 per-carload admission is required Fridays through Sundays, and free-will donations are accepted Mondays through Thursdays.

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A car goes through a tunnel made of Christmas lights at The Arc’s Lights at their facility near St. Paul and Douglas in west Wichita Friday night. (Nov. 27, 2015) File photo The Wichita Eagle

5. Christmas Story house at 818 N. Cedar Park: If you like the movie “A Christmas Story,” you’ll love this display at a house near Central and 119th. Put together by homeowner Alan Grossman, it always includes homemade scenes from the famous film, including Santa sitting on his throne at the top of the slide, Ralphie in his pink bunny suit, Flick with his tongue stuck to the frozen pole and, of course, the very “fragile” leg lamp.

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N. Azure Circle near Central and 119th St. W is also known as Candy Cane Lane during this time of year when all of the neighbors get together to decorate their houses. (December 16, 2017) Jaime Green The Wichita Eagle

4. Candy Cane Lane, Azure Circle near Central and 119th: One of Wichita’s biggest displays is put together with the cooperation of a whole lot of people in one neighborhood. Candy Cane Lane features 18 neighboring houses on the cul-de-sac on North Azure Circle that are completely covered in lights. The display has been going on for 17 years, and getting through it can be a traffic hassle. But that will just give you more time to gaze out the window.

Azure Circle near 119th Street West and Central is unofficially called Candy Cane Lane for the next couple of weeks. This video was taken during the 2017 holiday season.

3. Reindeer Road, Firefly Street, Central and 119th: Another popular neighborhood display is Reindeer Road, which is one street to the west of Candy Cane Lane. This display gets bigger each year too, and it features many houses with light-up, 16-foot-tall reindeer in their front yards.

2. Kirstie Alley’s Santa’s Village, 3725 E. Douglas: Some years, movie star and Wichita native Kirstie Alley is in town for Christmas. Some years, she’s not. You know she is when her side-by-side houses on East Douglas are covered in lights and her prized Santa’s Village display goes up. This year is one of those years. The village, a series of large panels painted with festive Christmas town scenes, was a memento Alley saved from the set of her 1993 movie “Look Who’s Talking Now,” and she’s been occasionally putting it up in front of her wood-shingled house since 2007. This year, both of her houses, including the one at 3751 E. Douglas, are fully decked out, making for a particularly festive sight.

1. Lights on Texas, 11603 W. Texas, near 119th and Maple: The granddaddy of all Wichita Christmas displays is at this house, whose owners moved west in 2015 after a few years on Lawrence Court. The architects of the glowing magic are Brad Short and Scott Lawrence, who have more than 300,000 lights and many of the decorations that once lit up the famous Wey Mansion on Park Place. Their show includes music broadcast over the radio and is so expansive and bright, it could likely be seen from the moon. Be sure to note the animated Santa in a clear box mounted on the roof.

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Lights on Texas at 11603 W. Texas St. (December 5, 2016) Jaime Green File photo

FIVE BONUS DISPLAYS

Since we first published this story, several more amazing displays have come to our attention. Here are five more to check out after you’ve exhausted the original list.

6726 W. Ocieo, near K-96 and Ridge Road: Joshua and Mildred Clyborne have been decorating their house for years, and each year, their animated display gets bigger. They now have 50,000 lights that dance to 15 musical sequences. Their display also includes two 27 foot mega trees, 20 little trees, a nativity scene and a sleigh and reindeer on the roof.

Christmas on South Battin, 1850 S. Battin, near Harry and Oliver: Two houses next to each other have teamed up to form a lovely dancing light display that spans both homes – highlighted by a lighted arch over the driveway. The display has 65,000 lights dancing to music and includes trees, a talking Rudolph and hot chocolate brought to your car.

Lights on David Street, 409 N. David St., near 119th and Central: This big show has its own website that promises “100 Amps and Hundreds of channels of luminary lunacy!” Sold! And it’s right nearby Lights on Texas. The homeowner is also known for his spooky Halloween light display.

2602 E. Sunnyslope, Park City: If you’re up north, swing by this display. It features 15,000 LED lights that dance to music that’s transmitted onto an FM station. Jeff Cherne and his father are behind it, and each year, they add more and more lights, he said.

Lights on Cedar Lane: This house at 11608 Cedar Lane in Maize sits at the end of a quiet residential street. Homeowner Mark Schnieders has filled his 180-foot-long yard with lights and light sculptures that he makes himself or recycles, and it’s also full of hanging lights. Schnieders said he would have sent a picture, but the “yard is too long for just one picture. Or even 10.”

AND A FEW MORE

Honn Family Christmas, 5501 N. Porter Ave: This display features thousands of dancing Christmas lights set to music you can tune into on your radio.

202 N. Ashley Park, near Maple and Ridge: It doesn’t have any flashing lights or music, fans of this display say, but it’s a solid effort. And there’s another good one just down the street at 105 N. Ashley Park.

5306 W. 11th Street, near 13th and West: Fans of this light display say it “gets better every year.”

Inflatable city at 1610 Tanglewood Road, Rose Hill: It’s a bit of a drive from Wichita to Rose Hill, but it’s worth it to see this wildly decorated house, which could give Lights on Texas a run for its money. This one also features more than 20 inflatables.

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.

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