Holiday Displays: Southland Has its Share of Bright Ideas

’Tis the season for holiday spirit, which means decorations galore dot the landscape throughout the Southland.

For some, light displays provide a feeling of nostalgia. Driving around with the family listening to holiday music and “oohing” and “ahhing” at lights is either a pleasant memory or an ongoing tradition for many.

Christmas lights have gone from strands of colored LED bulbs to digital projections and light shows that are synched to popular Christmas songs. It seems light displays each year grow technologically and in detail.

While not comprehensive, here is a list of some Southland venues with Christmas displays ranging from classic plastic figures to lights that seem to dance before one’s eyes. Many will remain up into January, but there are still a couple of nights to catch them before Christmas.

The SouthtownStar solicited nominations on its Facebook page; others on the list were added simply as a result of drive-bys or via towns’ Facebook contests or other miscellaneous sources.


-Jon’s Bakery 7901 S. Nagle Ave.

The east side of the building on 79th Street has a “Winter Forest” window display, complete with glittery snow and reindeer. The inside of the store is decorated with a winter snowflake theme.

Along with the great decorations, they of course have sweet holiday treats.

“We have chocolate donuts, bacon buns, and holiday decorated cookie trays. Stop by and see for yourself!” said Judith Hildebrant, owner of Jon’s Bakery.

Chicago Heights:

-200 Southgate Ave.

Chicago Ridge:

-6600 W. 107th St.


-Entire block of Hutchison Road

Residents of Flossmoor call it “crazy lights”, but you have to see it for yourself. A neighborhood effort, lights criss cross from trees overhead to create a lighted tunnel for passerbys.

Homer Glen:

-16860 Pineview Dr.

Mike Mastela has lit up his house with his son for years now to the delight of the neighborhood.

“As much as we do outside, my wife and daughter do just as much inside,” he said.

The Mastela family has over 50,000 LED lights on display and an efficient motion sensor system. He said the display was not always a piece of cake to maintain.

“Before LED lights became popular, we used traditional C9 lights which meant we had to turn off certain circuits of the house like the toaster,” Mastela added.


-11508 Ashbury Ct.

Joe Smolinski has been putting effort into his Christmas display for 25 years. There are over 100 figures lining the lawn, but he says he has a favorite.

“The nativity scene is one of the show pieces for us, specifically the stable. The wood is from the old deck at my parents’ house, and my son and I built it together,” Smolinski said.

-9442 Elm Ave.

The lights on this display change color and dance to music from 99.1 FM. The light show is programmed through a computer, said Rachel Franson.

“We’ve been doing this for five years now. My husband was inspired by the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to make an extravagant light display. We want it to grow more,” she said.

-11437 Stratford Rd.

These lights are extra special, as they pay tribute to the Budzinski’s son, Jason, who died in a car crash in 2009. The memorial says, “What we have done for ourselves dies with us; what we have done for others lives on and remains!”

His light lives on with the family’s over-the-top display. There are snowmen making s’mores over a fire, and Santa Claus can be seen peeking out. One of the great light features is the carnival scene, complete with a rotating ferris wheel and merry go round.

Oak Forest:

-15607 Sierra Dr.

-5408 Grange Ave.

Oak Lawn:

-7116 96th St.

-10105 S. Karlov Ave.

Orland Park:

-11633 Glenview Dr.

George Krone takes three weeks off of work to set up his packed holiday arrangement to be finished and revealed on Thanksgiving Day. The house has won two awards for their hard work, and they enjoy it just as much as the spectators that come from around the area to see it.

When asked how many lights they have, Sandy Krone said, “My husband always says, ‘If you know how many lights you have, you don’t have enough.’”

Palos Heights:

-12123 S. Harold Ave.

-12956 S. Moody Ave.

Tinley Park:

-17321 Avon Lane

-6618 Glenview Dr.

-16423 Parliament Ave.

Richard Esposito has been recognized and awarded for the breathtaking display on his front lawn. Channel 2 News recently featured the home on TV. Esposito said it takes a whole month to properly finish the spectacle of holiday mementos.

The couple has to give up part of their living room and garage to display their two villages and their collection of Marshall Field’s holiday bears.

Of all the figures and lights, Esposito has a favorite.

“The train is the best decoration we have. It is interactive, so kids love coming up and pushing the buttons to make the train move and make sound,” he said.

All of these houses have something to offer this holiday season, and each has been set up for the love of the beautiful lights.

[Via: The Southtown Star]

About Allison Murray