Heading out to enjoy some holiday lights? Here are a few of our favorite South Florida home display highlights:
14205 SW 156th Terr., The Upshaw family: Six Christmas trees, life-sized Nutcrackers guarding the home’s garage, Santa Claus’ workshop and a North Pole station. Display is open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. through Jan. 1. Lights remain on all night on Christmas Eve.
12331 SW 109th Terrace, The Hannah family: about 70,000 lights, plus a Disney-inspired castle façade and a clock tower that strikes at 6 p.m., when the lights turn on. The light show is synchronized to the tunes of Disney holiday songs. Lights are on from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, until 11 p.m. on weekends through Jan. 6.
9241 SW 70th St., Angel and Millie Alduncin: A miniature city, complete with a train, school, a hotel, and a church closely resembling St. Hugh Catholic Church in Coconut Grove; a mailbox for letters to Santa. Christmas songs play as well. Display runs from 6:05 p.m. to 11 p.m. (the music is turned off at 9 p.m. ) through Jan. 8.
6112 SW14th St, Armando and Lenny Caravia: Thousands of lights, a prominent Nativity scene, a 6-foot tall Santa Claus, a Christmas tree. Display runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Jan. 1.
1930 SW 57th Place, Carlos and Nelia San Martin: About 20,000 lights; a hand-made igloo with penguins inside; the San Martin Express train perched atop the yard’s fence; Santa’s mailbox. Display runs from 6 to 10 p.m. until Jan. 8.
19281 Holiday Road, Mark and Margaret Steele: Four small wood houses sheltering dozens of stuffed toys. About 20,000 lights, 10 Christmas trees, two Nativity scenes, and a 20-foot star atop the scene, trains that move throughout the yard. Display runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Jan. 6.
8740 SW 186th St., The Rapport family: A Nativity scene; motorized animals playing Christmas music; thousands of lights. Display runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on weekend through Jan. 6. Santa Claus comes out at 8 p.m. every night to pass out candy canes.
14535 SW 139th Ct., The Catanach family: Golfing reindeer, a skiing bull and a menagerie that includes a cow, a pig three polar bears, a turtle, two dog, an elephant, and a hippo (to name a few). Display runs from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. until Jan. 8.
1120 Quail Ave., The Hutchings: About 100,000 LED lights synchronized to music you can listen to on your car radio, a tall Christmas tree shaped from lights, a life-sized Nutcracker. Display runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays; Display will be up through Dec. 31.
13300 SW 26th St., The Hammels: About 80,000 LED lights; at least 150 figurines; a 40-foot wide by 10-foot tall projector screen for Christmas movies. Display runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Jan.6.
2300 N 57th Ave., The Dyga family: About 60,000 lights synchronized to Christmas songs that could be listened to on outdoor speakers or on 97.7 FM; snow machines; 22 inflatable figures; a virtual Santa Claus and train children can ride. The more than 20 inflatable figures are activated between 7 and 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 4 to 6 p.m.; Nighttime display runs from 6 p.m. until midnight. Lights and figures will remain until Jan. 6.
10660 SW 32nd St., The Mesaros: About 40,000 lights; an 18-foot tall Christmas tree, plus elves, deer, a 6-foot tall Nutcracker and a 7-foot tall Santa Claus; music can be heard on 106.9 FM as well as outside from speakers in the yard. Display runs from 6 pm. to 10 p.m. through Jan.1.
4601 Madison St., The Haberkams: About 20,000 lights computer synchronized to music from speakers outside the home as well as on 102.1 FM; Display runs from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Jan. 2.
Much like the Alduncins, the San Martins’ holiday display includes mainly pieces that Carlos San Martin made by hand.
It all started about 30 years ago when the San Martins’ neighbor across the street from their Coral Terrace home would always put up holiday decorations in his yard
So the San Martins simply wanted to help him out in his effort to light up the block with his holiday spirit.
Once, the two families even had lights running from trees in one yard to the other, forming a tunnel of holiday lights.
Since then, the San Martins have added more and more lights every year, eventually reaching about 20,000 lights in their yard.
The latest addition this year is a Christmas-tree-ornament inspired igloo. Made from Plexiglas, wood and metal, the igloo is set in the middle of the yard.
Peek inside and see three penguins cozying up next to a Christmas tree. Outside, more penguins decorate the igloo, some of them kept warm by red scarves and others set atop a red sled. The penguin figurines for the piece are made from hard foam that San Martin carved.
“I like doing the display because a lot of the kids come by and take photos,” said San Martin, 70.
Don’t forget to drop off your Christmas wish list in the hand-made Santa Claus mailbox. And if you have time, peek at another hand-made piece – the San Martin Express set atop the yard’s fence. Painted in red and with glowing wheels that give the impression that the train is moving, the train has three cars. In the first is Santa Claus, in the second are the presents and in the last car are reindeers and other Christmas characters.
Every couple of minutes, the train emits smoke.
“The best part is to see the people come by and enjoy it,” said San Martin.
Stuffed with love
It is a display those with a soft spot for stuffed animals would love.
Four small wood houses filled with Teddy bears, rhinos, bunnies and stuffed M&M’s are the main attraction at the Steeles’ Cutler Bay home .
Each house has a theme. One represents Santa Claus’ kitchen where stuffed elves are baking goodies and offering lollipops to stuffed M&M’s. The second house is Santa Claus’ living room where he and other stuffed toys are cozying up next to a fireplace. The third house is a stuffed-animal heaven complete with a clown doing back flips. And the fourth house is Santa Claus’ workshop, where elves and other helpers are hard at work preparing presents.
“We just had a lot of stuffed animals and we started putting them in,” said Margaret Steele, 56. “People kept giving them to us. It started small and it just kept growing.”
At the Steeles’ home, work on the display begins on Halloween.
“We just give out candy and put the lights up,” said Mark Steele, 57. “It shows about the meaning of Christmas.”
Every year he takes two weeks off from work in order to have the display complete by Christmas Eve.
“On Christmas Eve I just quit,” he said, to the dismay of family and friends. “They get mad at me because I haven’t gotten it done. I just run out of time.”
The display also includes about 20,000 lights, 10 Christmas trees, trains that weave throughout the yard and two Nativity scenes.
Hundreds of students held hands around the lake's edge at the 7th annual Hug the Lake ceremony.
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