Clark Griswold set the exterior illumination bar pretty high more than 30 years ago in the classic movie “Christmas Vacation.”
But these days, it takes a lot more than a few big snarls of incandescent bulbs and a staple gun to get the neighbors’ attention.
Most of the folks in this year’s roundup of spectacular Christmas displays start in on them months in advance.
As technology has evolved from incandescent bulbs to programmable LED pixels, the number of displays synchronized to music has increased. Others feature handmade decorations. And every single one is a display of creativity and ingenuity.
So grab a thermos of cocoa and some treats and check out this year’s collection of dazzling Christmas light displays.
The Bagwell Lights, 2008 E. Cambridge St.
The Bagwell Lights are nothing short of legendary. Mike Bagwell’s display is splashed across eight yards in southeast Springfield and is set to music. Set your radio to 105.5 FM. The lights run 5 to 10:15 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Extended hours Dec. 23-25 are 5 p.m. to midnight and 5-10:30 p.m. Dec. 26. After-Christmas hours are 5-10 p.m. Dec. 27-Jan. 1. The Bagwell display is very popular, so be prepared for a crowd, particularly on the weekend and as the holidays get closer. Lines tend to form, so plan on turning around at Field Elementary, on Luster Avenue near Barataria Street, to get in line to see the lights. This keeps traffic from backing up onto Battlefield Road. Be polite; the car turning in front of you may be a resident of the neighborhood. If it’s rainy or super windy, the inflatables and the train may be turned off for safety reasons. Check out the Bagwell Lights Facebook page for updates at https://www.facebook.com/bagwelllights/.
Jaxon’s Lights, 4938 S. Tujunga Drive
Now in its seventh year, 16-year-old Jaxon Baker continues to expand his display. This year, he spent more than three months working on the display and getting it set to his satisfaction. The display includes tens of thousands of lights and scores of inflatables. He only has one song running so far this year, but hopes to add more soon, he writes on his JaxonsLights Facebook page. Passersby can tune in to 97.1 FM to catch the music. The display operates 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. You can find updates and weather cancellations on his page, https://www.facebook.com/jaxonslights. If you’d like to help Jaxon keep his light show growing, he’s provided a donation station.
Kevin and Valinda Bradley, 2874 State Highway B, Rogersville
The Bradley family — Kevin, Valinda, Corbin,and Ashley — are no strangers to the Christmas display roundup. Their display has more than 250 inflatables along with lights and a new section of blow molds. Visitors can either drive through to see most of the display or use the parking areas to wander through the display and visit the bake shop. Visitors can also enjoy Christmas music by tuning in to 97.9 FM. Kevin asks that everyone follow the direction signs and not block the driveway. Hours for the display — open through Christmas Eve — vary each night depending on weather and day of the week. Visitors can check in on family’s Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/B-Highway-Christmas-Display-161075733974081, for updates. The Bradleys have opened a bake shop where visitors can purchase baked goods and coffee or hot chocolate along with Christmas holiday items and gifts to help with the expenses of the display. The hours of the bake shop will also be included in each night’s post.
Rob Collins, 1956 W. Nottingham St.
Rob Collins and his family joined the Christmas-light roundup in 2020 and already the Collinses have made some big changes. Rob says the biggest change is a move to pixels from a mixture of LED and incandescent bulbs. What hasn’t changed is the display’s theme. Collins explains his family of seven is represented in the seven trees in their yard. An eight-foot cross represents God looking over the family, he says. Visitors can tune in to 96.1 to listen to the broadcast. You can catch a preview on the Collins’ YouTube channel, Collins Family Adventures, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8wDkSi-yLU&feature=youtu.be
Dickson Christmas Wonderland, 2861 S. Hartford Ave, Bolivar
Robert Dickson’s display has been wowing crowds for years, but he’s really upped his game this year. The Bolivar display features homemade singing lightbulbs, leaping arches, a 12.5-foot metal dinosaur, video projection, pixel screen, Nativity scene and lots of Christmas animals and figures in the yard, Nicole Dickson says. “New this year are two 13-foot pixel trees that will definitely bring smiles and laughs to viewers. This year, the show has a lot more comedy.” The display — which spans three lots — includes 3,650 pixels, and the show runs about 25 minutes long. Viewers can tune to 98.1 FM from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly. The Dicksons have also added a donation box for the Polk County Humane Society this year. They’re asking visitors to fill it with dog and cat food, cleaning supplies and other pet-care items. For updates or to learn more, head to https://www.facebook.com/DicksonChristmasWonderland/.
Bob and Polly Duda, 500 S. Central Ave., Marionville
The Dudas’ light display is closing in on 20 years, after launching in 2003. It’s grown to nearly a quarter-million lights and has dazzled countless families. Each year, the Dudas use the display to help raise money for various charities and Bob says this year will be no different. Visitors can catch the programmed display from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday through New Year’s Eve. Tune it to 103.5 to listen to the music. To learn more, head to the Dudas’ Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/MarionvilleLights.
Jonathan Gugel’s Lights on La Siesta Street, 4739 W. La Siesta St.
Lights on La Siesta Street is decked out with more than 25,000 lights. It features a mixture of LED and incandescent lights, a singing Santa, Christmas trees, a Nativity scene and more. Gugel says he’s added a few more trees this year along with some new inflatables. As in years past, Lights on La Siesta Street is collecting monetary donations for the Willard Care to Learn. A donation collection bin is attached to the mailbox for your convenience. Don’t forget to check out and like the Lights on La Siesta Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/gugellights/ to keep updated on what is happening. Hours are 5-9 p.m. except Saturday, when they’re on till midnight.
Don and Rhonda Long, 2554 N. Grant Ave.
The Longs' display centers on a homemade Nativity scene and singing bulbs, but longtime fans can expect plenty of new features, Rhonda says. The display also is synchronized to a soundtrack that can be tuned into on 105.5 FM. Hours for the light display are 5:30-10 p.m. nightly. You can learn more about their display on their Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/Longs-Holiday-Lights-100777521347180.
Paul and Donna Miller, 3050 E. Swallow St.
If you love Disney, you must not miss this house. The Millers' lawn is filled with inflatable Disney characters, some of which even play music.
Jeffrey Pettibone, 3610 Claude Road, Nixa
This is Jeffrey's fourth year of presenting Pettibone’s Dazzling Christmas Illuminations. The display topped 10,500 lights this year. You can see his handiwork off of Missouri 14, between Ozark and Nixa. Hours are 5:30 p.m.-midnight nightly through Jan. 1. You can learn more by going to at https://www.facebook.com/PettibonesDCI or Instagram @PettibonesDCI.
Ken and Paula Phillips, 4261 W. Madison St.
Ken and Paula have strung tens of thousands of LED lights that dance and twinkle to more than two dozen songs. The display features a gingerbread village, Stanley the singing lightbulb and, of course, Santa. You can enjoy the show from the warmth of your vehicle while listening to the music. Hours are 6-10:30 p.m. through New Year’s Eve. To learn more, go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Phillips-Family-Lights-101657161799308.
Allen and Karyn Stone, 4740 S. Glenn Ave.
The Stones have put up a massive display for several years now, an effort Karyn Stone describes as a labor of love. New this year are three mega trees, one of which stands 20 feet tall and features 5,100 lights. The display also features a 12-foot Santa, a 10-foot reindeer and a Joy sign that stands 6 feet tall. The display runs from dusk to 10 p.m. nightly through New Year’s Day.
The Rinker Christmas Light Extravaganza, 429 E. College St., Aurora
A 150-year-old sleigh, flying reindeer and a 64-foot pole tree that dances to the music are just a few of the festive things to see at the Rinker Christmas Light Extravaganza. They have a misfit toy scene, Nativity scene, a gingerbread house and a sledding scene. The display is covered in lights that are all set to music at 88.1 FM. Be sure to check their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Rinkers-Christmas-Light-Extravaganza-403736743170964, for changes or cancellations.
Craig and Kelli Rogers, 5631 W. Josh St.
Craig and Kelli Rogers’ dazzling display hit the News-Leader’s radar for the first time last year but has been a labor of love for many years. Kelli says the display has grown even more this year. “We’ve added more cut-outs and more lights with more to add in the next few days. I lost count in how many lights, but we have approximately 700 feet just in the air with literally thousands more feet on the ground, in the trees and on the cut-outs — I\'ve lost track!” The display — open from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 1 — features handmade cutouts with characters such as the Rankin and Bass classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.” New this year are characters from Dr. Seuss. “Opening night was Thanksgiving night and we had several people stop by,” Kelli says. “They all seemed to love what we’ve done. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we love doing it all.” You can learn more at their Facebook page, Josh Street Christmas Lights, at https://www.facebook.com/Josh-Street-Christmas-Lights-2520258424681091.
Matt and Sarah Scott, 3757 W. Farm Road 94
This is Matt and Sarah Scott’s first year on the News-Leader’s roundup of the area’s brightest Christmas displays, and they’ve certainly made a bold addition to the list. Their display features a large assortment of holiday decorations, most of which are handmade. “It all started with Sarah’s love for Christmas as a child,” Matt writes. Sarah and her brother created the candy canes more than 30 years ago with the help of their dad. “Over the last 10 years, we have tried to add at least something new each year. Ideas come from everywhere,” Matt writes. “We already have plans to build and add more for next year.” Matt says that while the display is designed to be as attractive in the daytime as it is at night, lights come on at dusk and stay on until after 10 p.m. through the season.
Eric Shively, 3217 W. GrayRock Drive
The Shively family pulls out all the stops for the Christmas season. “We have music, a projection show and enough lights to make the neighborhood glow,” Eric Shively writes in an email. “This is the go-to spot to check off the boxes for a Christmas scavenger hunt.”
T.J. and Bridget Steinert, 752 W. Apache St., Republic
The Steinert display rocks more than 50,000 lights coordinated to a wide selection of Christmas tunes playing on the low-watt station 88.1 FM. The display runs 6-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For the fifth year, T.J. and Bridget will give out free hot cocoa and candy canes from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 18. Cocoa night has special meaning this year. The Steinerts are dedicating it to the memory of Bridget’s mom, who died on Dec. 18 several years ago. Be sure to check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Steinert-Family-Lights-161543354579653/ for weather cancellations.
Michael and Diana Stoffregen, 602 E. Falls Circle, Ozark
Waterford Christmas Cottage features more than 20,000 pixels synchronized to more than 60 traditional and modern Christmas songs broadcast over 107.3 FM. The display — which features a Dr. Seuss Whoville theme — is located in a cul-de-sac so you can park your car and watch the lights. The display is open 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For updates or to learn more, head over to https://www.facebook.com/ChristmasLightShow/.
Cole Underwood, 349 S. Mahn
This is Cole’s seventh year syncing lights to music and his ninth to put up a display. Cole says he now has about 10,500 lights this year and a variety of new features including pixel snowflakes. “A lot of it has just been rearranging items to my liking and filling in holes to add more lights,” Cole says. Visitors can tune in to 94.1 FM to catch the music. He encourages people to go to https://www.facebook.com/underwoodlights to learn more and get updates.
Darren Vodopich, 1621 E. Atlantic St.
Darren Vodopich’s Christmas display continues to grow. His vast collection of inflatables nearly filled his yard last year. This year, it promises to overflow. Vodopich has dozens and dozens of inflatables. Highlights include a 15.5-foot snowman and a light display set to music.
Valerie and Ron Willis, 3030 State Highway B, Rogersville
The Willis’ light display, next door to the Bradleys’, is among the displays that have grown this year. The display features a variety of trees and other holiday delights.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Christmas light displays map guides to 21 Springfield area homes