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...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas House

UPDATE CHRISTMAS DAY 2008: Regrettably, I've just read that this beautiful display will come to an end on New Year's. This is your very last year to catch this, so please do so whilst you can!

It's almost the New Year, having just waved goodbye to Christmas 2006.

But as Gretchen Wilson says in Redneck Woman, "I keep my Christmas Lights on my front porch all year long" -- Christmas ain't over, until you take your life-sized Frosty with timer-lights down!

(I usually disassemble my Christmas display on 6 January, Epiphany, having put them up around 6 December, AKA the Feast of Saint Nicholas. We just have a tree, a Christmassy sock outside the door, and of course, a manger. When I was growing up, trust me, my German mother went ALL out)

Christmas can mean many things to people, but in suburbia, it usually means competition.

Who has the best Christmas display on the block?
Who outdoes even the richies next door?
Who puts on a light show worthy of a Rolling Stones rock concert?

And most importantly, whose display is so massive, so awesome, so in-your-face expensive, that you actually have people coming from miles away, with cops helping corral these gawkers outside their home?

We all have one such home in our various cities around the world (although admittedly, us Euroweenies don't go whole-hog like Americans do -- as ever).

And here is the Miami Christmas House to end all Christmas Houses!

Come join me in my latest South Florida Travellogue, as I post the last time this year, sending it off in style.


Who are the Clots, you say?

They are a family in Pinecrest, Florida (a ritzy neighbourhood in South Miami, long-time homestead of outgoing Governor Jeb Bush) who have had a Christmas Display on their properties, going back 30 years now.

The matriach of this family, Archy, died in 2000, but she was a local legend in the area, having been associated with the University of Miami, the local Mensa chapter, and as a breeder/judge of Afghan hounds, since her birth. Yes, a bona fide Miami-born native. Who knew they existed?

The Clots (I know, right, it sounds like The Claus) even have a website.

"Each year, the Clot family gives away over 60,000 candy canes to children who visit the site. The display consists of over 600,000 lights, over 100 custom made animated displays and takes approximately 15 days and 15 volunteers to assemble. The display draws in excess of 2,000 amps of current and consumes approximately $4,000.00 in electricity monthly."

An older reference perhaps because tonight, they had a scrolling electric sign which said it took 21 volunteers to put up this display, starting in July (!), bless them.

I don't know what you may think, you might even think this is craziness or worse, but I personally find this kind of dedication to making others happy, amazing.

The Clots are what make this world a charming playground of free fun, which you have only to open your eyes, to enjoy.

And today, you have me as your guide to this little corner of wonder.

The first time you approach the house, you'll see two police cars alongside 120th street deep inside Pinecrest. Their lights are flashing up a storm, and that starts your heart pumping (especially if you have expired tags like me).

Suddenly, you see the first peaks of lights in the distance, with a pile-up of cars parked willy-nilly, all around the side streets.

Lastly, you'll see kiddies of all sizes leading their parents, dragging them to go faster to see Frosty, Rudolph and Santa. Hurreeee!

Then you see this.

And I don't know one person in this world, no matter how jaded or how old, that doesn't remember what it was to be a child, at that very moment.

My mum, despite being the daughter of a soldier, and a wife of another who actually wore a red coat, remarked in all seriousness about this delightful display of toy soldiers,

"Look at the English bobbies, how cute". Allll-righty then.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Vic, this Christmas House display is HUGE. Where does it end!?".

Relax, what's your hurry? Look at Santa and Mrs. Claus in their cosy cottage.

Though I'm not quite sure they actually have camels in the North Pole, but hey.

Father Claus? Sounds like they were aiming for a more international flavour, like Pére Noël meets Father Christmas, perhaps.

Here is South Florida's only known skating rink. You can tell the revellers are Miamians, because one has fallen over attempting to skate.

I told my mother she was out of practise, but would she listen? Would she, cocoa.

I had too much fun watching the train go 'round to laugh at her.

And like Rockefeller Centre with their rink, we also have a towering Christmas Tree to bedeck the scene.

Rather bad form to dress up the Three Wise Men as Rockettes, I thought, though.

But in all seriousness, these Christmas displays so far are delightful, but here is, as they say, the Reason For The Season.

I liked this Nativity scene, a lot. It was simple, in fact, rather plain.

And that's just as it should be.

Unless you move slightly to the right, and view it with tinsel and shepherds practically falling into Baby Jesus' face. Ah well.

Have you ever been to Disney World here in Florida?

Well, if you have, you'll join me in chorusing, "RIP OFF!" about this Singing Bear Jamboree scene.

There is a "ride" up in the Magic Kingdom, which is actually a sit-down restaurant, whose floorshow are these animatronic jamboree bears with banjoes, and what-not.

I swear they even play the same songs! Wait, what am I complaining about? This totally rocked.

The good thing about Christmas in this country, is that it's not just a religious holiday, oh no. Christmas evokes images from Americana -- a cross between Norman Rockwell and Charles Dickens, all in one hokey gift-wrapped package.

Here is this yesteryear scene of two Victorians selling apples for a nickle, and roasted chestnuts at virtually give-away prices. The woman is even wearing a bonnet!

...not to mention these kids on a sled. A sled!

...and carollers?? Begging for money for their Christmas goose, no doubt.

The secular-progressives have much to answer for. I'm emailing Bill O'Reilly.

The tour is almost over, but not without first taking a ride on the Ferris Wheel. Buy a ticket from the elves, leprechauns or whatever, and hop on...

Because your ride is over!

Yes, even the Clots couldn't afford more Christmas lights, geegaws, and displays after this scene. Cheapskates.

By the way, their front yard may be huge enough to handle this copious, and may I say in all honesty, absolutely dazzling Christmas scene, but their home (seen behind the Ferris Wheel), was surprisingly modest.

Just goes to show, even if you don't have the money of a Rockefeller, with a little Christmas spirit...

...the right connexions in City Hall

...lots of volunteer family members

...long-suffering neighbours

...and a strategically placed donation box...

...you too can put up a massive Christmas display like this, in your humble abode.

You wish.

The real long holiday that centres around Christmas Day is almost over, my friends.

On comes the New Year, this 2007 which ends with a lucky number. What will it bring? Will it bring Peace on Earth, and Glad Tidings To All?

That is surely the wish of everyone, in the spirit of the birth of Our Saviour, one of hope and mercy.

I will be away until Tuesday, 2 January, as I spend New Years at fancier digs in Palm Beach with my parents, but believe me when I tell you, I wish all of you the safest, most wonderful New Year's Celebrations, yet.

See you next year! God willing.

The Clots Home is Located At:

6840 SW 119 Street
Pinecrest, Florida 33156


(Take South Dixie all the way to Ludlam, turn and follow Ludlam to 120th Street. Turn into 68th court, and follow the cars and pedestrians. You can't miss it. Parking is Cuban-style, en la loma)

ADDENDUM: Oh, yeah. I took a fuzzy video to show you the display in real time. The girl laughing at the little Austrian (tourist?) boy saying "Der Rudolph, mit der roten Nase!", is me. Enjoy!


  • Homina....homina...homina....

    There is one pic where the three wise men look like they've just fired their particle beam weapon against incoming anti-Christian missles!

    Have the Best of All Possible New Years, Vic!

    By Blogger Ron, at Sat Dec 30, 03:06:00 am GMT-5  

  • Homina....homina...homina....

    That's like grits, right?

    There is one pic where the three wise men look like they've just fired their particle beam weapon against incoming anti-Christian missles!


    Have the Best of All Possible New Years, Vic!

    Thanks, Ron. I am pooped, else I'd reply to your kind email.

    I will pop that off to you, toute-de-suite, when I return. :)


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Dec 30, 03:18:00 am GMT-5  

  • May 2007 bring all the good 2006 missed.

    By Blogger JSU, at Sat Dec 30, 09:10:00 am GMT-5  

  • Great post Victoria! I learned more about the Clots from reading your post than I did during the 11 years I lived just down the street from that house!

    Happy New Year!!!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Sat Dec 30, 09:47:00 am GMT-5  

  • Your laugh shines this Christmas season even brighter than the Clots display.

    Happy New Years Vicky! All the best for a prosperous and happy 2007!

    By Blogger Renato, at Sat Dec 30, 06:58:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I'm home! Whew, I need a vacation from my vacation.

    I may be too pooped/busy tomorrow, but thanks for your good wishes JSU, Jose and Renato!!

    And yes, I tinkle when I laugh. :)


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Jan 02, 01:03:00 am GMT-5  

  • Thanks for posting that, Vicks. We have a few displays of that sort, here in Pinellas County. I used to go with my folks and visiting Sis and Bro. I don't go by myself. Not only do I have very untrustworthy wheels, but without someone to enjoy it with you, it's all sort of sad.

    But, who knows? Maybe next Season.

    By Blogger benning, at Thu Jan 04, 10:31:00 am GMT-5  

  • Thanks for posting that, Vicks.

    Glad you enjoyed it, Benning. :)

    I think I shouldn't have so close to the long holiday, since maybe people are gone on vacation as yet.

    We have a few displays of that sort, here in Pinellas County. I used to go with my folks and visiting Sis and Bro. I don't go by myself. Not only do I have very untrustworthy wheels, but without someone to enjoy it with you, it's all sort of sad.

    A little. I notice that Florida (being so transient) is really a bad place for making friends.

    Or maybe it's an American malaise in general?

    Someone said that Americans have it all, but their curse is loneliness.

    This may well be why they are the world leaders in communications.

    And yes, Florida is also a State where if you don't have a car, don't even bother to come.

    But, who knows? Maybe next Season.

    You betcha. :)

    Take care, poppet!

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Jan 04, 08:57:00 pm GMT-5  

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