Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Orlando's most increadible private Christmas light display.

Once a year I seek out the best Christmas light display in Orlando to sketch. Folks in Florida tend to be fanatical about their displays which start going up right after Thanksgiving. My online research this year lead me to Christmas in the Shire (14645 Grand Cove Drive Orlando FL). The display has moved this year and is bigger than ever according to passers by.

I parked quite a few blocks away to avoid any possible traffic jams near the display. Traffic however was thankfully light in this new suburban neighborhood. Road work was still in progress on streets as I drove in. I walked through the neighborhood in my black hoodie enjoying the smaller light displays along the way. As I passed a mom removing groceries from her car, she said to me, "Do you want to see that display?" when she turned to look at me, she said with a start, "Oh! I thought you were my son!" I laughed.

What is truly unique about The Shire is the number of Christmas trees both on the yard and inside the home. More than a dozen trees were illuminated in the yard with many more inside the home. Andrew Albertson began collecting Christmas decorations when he was eight. He has over a thousand plastic snowmen, and he only displays the ones that tie in with a theme each year. Inside the home are 53 trees. He owns over 300 artificial trees that are four feet and higher. In all he may have 100,000 lights in the display.  Other displays might have more lights, but he has realized over time that quality is more important than quantity. The front door was always open inviting people to come inside.  At the foot of the driveway was a donation box. When people made a donation, bright white strobe lights flashed throughout the yard in appreciation. This was the only blinking lights in the display. I like that they rely on the simple beauty of the display for a calming effect.

Christmas tunes played all night long. A young couple standing in the driveway started to waltz to the music. Other families children ran around playing tag and excited to find out what was inside the home. It was rather cold the evening I went to sketch. My fingers stiffened and the tablets warm processor is the only reason I was able to finish what I started. Working in watercolor wouldn't have worked. If you want to visit a spot that is certain to warm you up to the holiday season, then head to Hunter's Creek to visit Christmas in the Shire.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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