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America Decorates: Christmas Lights Across America

Martha Stewart Living Television

San Antonio
Every winter, millions of people across the country decorate for the holidays with their own traditions and tastes guiding them. The results can often be unique, such as those achieved by Ed Clark, a San Antonio resident who is also a World War II veteran and a great-grandfather. Hats are a trademark of his, and today Ed shows Martha one of his favorites: a Panama hat decorated with a variety of Christmas motifs, including a colorful assortment of lights.

Dallas
Weatherford, Texas, is a small rural community about 60 miles west of Dallas. This is where LuAnn Reck spends about two months each year transforming her double-wide trailer and three acres of land into the talk of the town. Beginning on the first of October and working straight through until December, six days a week, LuAnn and her husband hang lights on the house and set up the Santa figurine, the reindeer, sleigh, helicopter, and train, as well as a nativity scene in the yard. LuAnn likes best when people ring her doorbell to tell her how happy her display has made them.

Phoenix
Phoenix is not a region known for winter weather; the landscape at Christmastime is the color of desert rather than of snow. Phoenix resident Chris Birkett, however, decided 15 years ago that geography would not be an obstacle to having a snowy Christmas, so he set about turning his house into a holiday show that at least gives the illusion of a wintery scene. He uses more than 100,000 lights and a snow machine as well as motion, animation, and figures -- all of it running from his home computer -- to put on a series of fantastic displays. Chris says that in 2002, he had six combinations of lights and snow programmed in, and each one lasts around four minutes.

New Jersey
For Walter Scott, who lives on a 68-acre farm just outside of Princeton, New Jersey, the Christmas season -- or at least preparations for Christmas -- begin the day after Halloween. Walter illuminates the land and the buildings -- including the house and a pair of old-fashioned wagons -- on the property with more than 25,000 lights and sends seasonal music booming through strategically placed loudspeakers. The music plays from dusk until 9 p.m., while the lights glow for a few additional hours. He keeps the display going from Thanksgiving Eve until just after Christmas.