By Joanna Dodder Nellans

For almost as long as people have owned cars, they’ve been driving around to view Christmas lights from the comfort of their vehicles, often with hot chocolate and cookies in hand. Once your parents treat you to this holiday tradition, you’re likely to carry it on for the rest of your life to rekindle those warm childhood holiday memories.

Those who go all-out with their yard decorations often say they do it for others as much as they do it for themselves.

“It makes you feel good to know you can make people happy,” relates Betsy Chance, who has been covering her Prescott home and yard on Whipple Extension in Christmas lights and decorations since moving back to her childhood home in 1998 (and at her previous Prescott home back to 1971). She knows it makes people happy because some leave notes to tell her. One group even jumped out of a bus to dance to the music that’s synchronized to her lights and broadcast locally at 88.1 FM. The lights and holograms are the handiwork of her partner and computer whiz Larry Medina.

The Chance/Medina home is well-known in Prescott because the lights are clearly visible from the major artery of Montezuma Avenue/Whipple Street.

Just several blocks away at the corner of Whipple and Lincoln, another highly visible home is reminiscent of a classic Currier & Ives scene. Prescott native Brent Smith has been showing off his holiday decorating skills at this corner since moving there in 1980.

“For me, it’s a really nice way to share with so many people,” Smith says.

Prescott quad-city residents never have to drive far to find delightful displays. And finding them – spotting them from a distance and then figuring out how to get there – can be half the fun.

Each community features its own vibe. Prescott boasts more historic homes with splendid décor and hillside displays, while PV decorators often pack a dazzling number of lights onto their relatively small yards. With its larger lots, more Chino yards feature inflatables and elaborate Christmas scenes.

Sometimes the best homes pop up in more rural locations such as Poland Junction, where the Walker family’s place with more than 500,000 lights literally shines like a beacon each Christmas season to Highway 69 passersby from 6487 S. Country Rd.

Unfortunately, winter wonderlands are subject to winter storms. January 2019 storms (followed by their cows getting out of their fenced area) destroyed half of the Walker family displays and lights, so they don’t expect to put up their display this year.

“We’re hoping to replenish and rebuild for next year,” Brian Walker said.