Clark Grizwold, eat your heart out.
The Clary Lakes subdivision is home to one of Cobb County’s most intricate light displays, where over 80,000 lights twinkle in perfect synchronization with a 45-minute Christmas playlist.
Dolls skate around a pond, a snowman blows out artificial snow, and on select nights, Santa Claus himself pays a personal visit, greeting kids in person from atop his sleigh.
Homeowner Karen Fox, a CPA, watched the proceedings from a table on her driveway, waving to families who drove by and handing out candy canes and hot cocoa to those who stopped by on foot.
Fox said for her, the Christmas preparations start Nov. 1.
“We usually start right after Halloween, and it’s kind of a family affair, taking everything up out of the basement, and then I just kind of lay things where I want them,” she said. “My niece and nephew do a lot of help. … My kids are grown, my niece and nephew are younger, and I just love Christmas. I love the magic of Christmas, I love looking at the innocence of children, we’ve got a Santa coming tonight, and just watching their face with Santa or seeing Santa in the window, it just warms my heart. To me, that’s what Christmas is all about.”
The only part of the yard not put together by Fox or a family member is the lights strung on the roof — she hires a professional roofer for that.
The yard is free to visit, but Fox has donation boxes set up to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church. She said she raised about $1,000 for Children’s last year and hopes to outdo that number this year.
Fox said going all out on Christmas decorations is a family tradition, and she has fond memories of helping her dad set up their yearly light display while growing up in New Jersey.
One special decoration comes from her dad’s collection — three angels representing Fox and her two siblings.
“I think that’s a big part of why I do it,” she said.
The displays Fox loved setting up as a child were never timed to play along with Christmas music.
Business analyst Scott Mackay, Fox’s ex-husband, takes care of that using a computer program called Light-O-Rama. Mackay uses it to tell each section of lights whether to be on or off on each beat of the music. He said he usually gets started in the summer because it can take up to 10 hours to program the lights for one 3-minute song — and this year’s playlist is about 45 minutes long.
Drivers can hear the tunes by turning their car radios to 88.3 FM.
“It took me a while, but I’ve got it mastered now. I can do it in my sleep,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of work, but when you see the looks on the kids’ faces, it’s all worth it.”
One of those kids was Sophie Jaffae, who attends Tritt Elementary. Sophie ran from decoration to decoration Saturday, excitedly describing each part to her family members.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “My favorite part are the Generation Dolls and the unicorn.”
The home is at 2994 Clary Hill Court, in the back of the Clary Lakes neighborhood off Post Oak Tritt.
The fun goes on through all 12 days of Christmas, ending Jan. 6.