Nothing says holidays in South Florida like front-yard decorations of melting snowmen and flamingos dressed in hula shirts relaxing beneath umbrellas.
These are just some of the elaborate holiday ornaments on display in front of private homes throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
(Did we miss one of your favorites? Add your suggestions in the comments below.)
When asked what prompts him to decorate his Kendall yard every year, Randy Hannah said: “If you still have the ability to do something, then do something. Why not?”
Like many other families who do elaborate decorations every holiday season, the Hannahs’ display grows bigger and bigger every year. This season, viewers are treated to a brand-new addition: a soaring castle, the tallest tower of which reaches 38 feet.
Some families, like the Hannahs, make a lot of their decorations by hand, while others hit the stores right after Christmas to prepare for next year.
All of them put in hours of work on their displays for the same reason: to see the smile on people’s faces as they pass by.
“It’s nights and weekends work to get it done,” said Brandon Hammel, who decorates his Davie home. “I just want to spread holiday cheer and give little kids inspiration. It feels really good to see the people happy.”
Davie resident Lanna Schor, 3, went to see the display for the first time.
“I like that they are glowing,” she said, pointing to several of the ornaments.
Added her father, Elliot Schor: “It’s just a very nice and selfless thing to do for the community.”
This year, The Miami Herald has profiled seven South Florida homes that spread the holiday cheer with front yards that light up the night.
From one generation to the next
Candace Upshaw remembers the elaborate Christmas decorations her father would put up in their South Florida home where she grew up.
There was Santa Claus in a sleigh, hung by fishing wire between two trees.
“It looked like he was flying,” said Upshaw, 52.
So when she married and had children of her own, Upshaw continued the tradition.
The Upshaws have put up holiday lights in their Richmond West home’s front yard for the past 27 years.
“We put the turkey in the oven and we start. It takes all five of us the whole weekend,” she said, adding that she does the decorations with her husband and three daughters starting Thanksgiving Day.
This year, highlights include glowing snowflakes on the lawn, Santa Claus with a puppy peeking out from his bag full of presents, and penguins wrapped up in scarves.
Through the years, the Upshaw home has become a known attraction in the neighborhood. On Christmas Eve, the family keeps the lights on all night to accommodate all those who wish to see their display.
“There’s usually a line of cars outside our house by that point,” said Candace’s daughter ,Cheryl Upshaw, 23.
The Upshaw daughters hope to continue the holiday tradition in their future homes.
“As a matter of fact, we will probably fight over who gets what pieces,” said Cheryl Upshaw.
The Christmas castle
Calling all aspiring princesses. The Hannah family has a castle for you.
The eight-tower castle is a façade to the Hannahs’ Kendall home and is also the latest addition to their holiday decorations.