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The Signal's Holiday Light Tour

A Chevy Tahoe-full of Signal staffers and friends crisscrosses the SCV during the Holiday Light Tour

Posted: December 17, 2010 6:00 a.m.
Updated: December 17, 2010 6:00 a.m.

The Maddux family, from left, Joshua, Linda and Jim, with Brandon in the back (Kyle not shown). The Maddux family home at 19121 Dalton St. in Newhall won our Grand Champion award because of its fantastic arrangement of thousands of lights, flashing in perfect synchronization to music.

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So it wasn't a three hour tour - oh no. It was nearly an eight hour tour! I kid you not, your intrepid Signal Holiday Light Tour judges roamed the streets of the SCV and piled in and out of a rented Chevy Tahoe like clowns in a, well, clown car, for nearly eight hours last Saturday night.

Why would we endure such torture?

Because we love the lights, love the snacks and drinks provided by our neighbors and, most importantly, love visiting with all you seasonal fanatics out there. We look forward to sharing your enthusiasm and to spreading the word about your creations to the rest of the valley - and beyond.

Now, before we get into the details, let us apologize to any of you we were supposed to visit during reasonable hours and somehow missed connecting with. We didn't get back to the sleigh-hanger until midnight, so you probably gave up on us.

But remember. Like Santa himself, just because you didn't see us come by, doesn't mean we didn't actually check out your wares. We may have idled by while you were asleep, too mannerly to ring your doorbell.

Between 4-something, when we left The Signal offices, and that aforementioned midnight, we visited 25 separate locations around the SCV from Castaic to Stevenson Ranch, to Newhall, to Valencia, to Canyon Country to Saugus. We did our best to do this efficiently but now and then took things out of order.

When you look at our route, starting on page 12, and our overall map on page 16, you'll see just how much territory we covered, and the order, sort of, in which we took things. (And remember, these are just the "winners.") You might have better ideas about how to accomplish it. Good luck to ya.

Our judges last Saturday evening were all Signal staffers, present and former, and one "friend of the family." The tireless crew included Stephanie Weiss, Lila Littlejohn, Michele Buttelman, Jim Walker, Natalie Everett and Melissa Gasca. Weiss and Everett were new to the task, but turned out to be naturals.

The judging consisted of scoring individual homes and streets (that had entered our contest) on a scale from 0 to 100. Trust me, all scores were near the upper end of that, and, you might be surprised to learn that only two points separated the first and second place homes. Given the fact we were easily influenced by bribes of sweets, chili, hot dogs, hot chocolate and, achem, other libations, next year's contestants should take note: Two points can be made up by a smile, a song or tacos.

As you will see, we must have been feeling pretty good because we came up with a whole lot of new categories so more homes could be "winners." But all were well-deserved.

So, what? You didn't think we'd tell you who all the Holiday Light Tour winners were right here at first, did you? Nope. There is just too much good stuff to come. So carry on with our story.

The homes with heart
A ‘home for the holidays' can mean many things

Everyone has their own idea of what a holiday "lighting" contest should consist of, and no one is wrong. That was beautifully evident on our light tour, and so awards were given for some very diverse entries.

Grand Champion
Maddux family (Jim, Linda, Joshua, Brandon and Kyle), 19121 Dalton St., Newhall
In a true family project that began nearly a year ago, this home was transformed into a beacon of light and music.
Judge Michele noted, "I watched, transfixed, with my mouth open, as the thousands and thousands of lights flashed in perfect synchronization to the music. It didn't hurt that the chili offered up at this stop was the best bribe of the night! The high level of technical execution at this home "schooled" the "pretenders" in the SCV to the holiday lights and music ‘throne.'"
Judge Lila noted the 35,000 lights and 700 hours of work involved in the display, the preparation for which began on Dec. 31, 2009.
Judge Natalie felt that, "Nary an inch of their home's frontage ... was without a string of lights."
Judge Melissa noted that the display was "overwhelmingly beautiful and awesome."
Judge Jim liked the fact you can tune into 99.1 FM to listen to the music as you watch the lights from your car.

Grand Champion Runner Up
Andrew and Gerrie Titcomb, 27335 Blueridge Drive, Valencia
The Titcombs turned around the word "Noel" to make it "Leon," and thus Leon became the theme, with their yard filled with cutouts of well known people with Leon in their names somewhere, such as the SCV's Leon Worden and Ponce de Leon. This clever theme, artistically presented, brought them within two points of the championship.
Judge Lila noted, "This is by far the most creative home. Most original."
Judge Natalie was touched by the "sucking-up," which included a cutout of former Signal employee Leon Worden, complete with a Signal in his hands.
Judge Melissa noted that, "All the Leons are scary, but awesome."
Judge Stephanie felt the display took real "imagination."

Best Use of Theme
Mark, Durinda, Kira and Cally Evanoff, 27363 Landon Place, Valencia
Given the task of presenting a "Possumtown" theme, most of the homes on our tour sort of avoided the issue.
Not so the Evanoffs, who added a nod to this with what appeared to be a possum's behind disappearing into a snow cave.
This among a multitude of other yard art and lights.
Judge Jim gave major points for this being, "The only real ‘Possumtown' entry."
Judge Stephanie loved the "whimsical Christmas." Judge Melissa noted, "These people make me proud to live in Possumtown ... err ... I mean Awesometown."

Best of Castaic
The Tisdells, Todd, Sara, Emma, Spencer, 30523 Deed Ave., Castaic
With their theme park-sized display of lights coordinated to music, the Tisdells are always contenders for the top home on the light tour. And they were certainly the best in Castaic. Make sure you visit this home, and donate to the Preeclampsia Foundation, an organization dear to their hearts. This year a pirate ship playhouse has been artfully incorporated into the holiday décor.
Judge Lila noted that more than 45,000 lights went into the display.
Judge Stephanie especially liked the way the lights changed colors to the music.
Judge Michele felt the home has, "The cutest dancing girls in the SCV. (But not on school nights.) Clever use of a play structure transformed into a pirate ship with Santa and his reindeer. This 15 minute light and music show still enchants!"

Best of Stevenson Ranch
Eli Hallak, 25086 Cotton Blossom Lane, Stevenson Ranch
A Ferris wheel, tram, lighted deer herds and music were just a few of the highlights at this charming home.
Judge Michele especially liked the snow machine. "I'm a sucker for snow ... fake or otherwise, and I enjoyed the soapy snow machine spitting out snow from the eaves."
Judge Lila liked the tram, Ferris wheel and Santa projected on the garage. "Absolutely charming," she noted.
Judge Melissa felt, "The choo choo train was adorable and unique!"

Best of Valencia
The McDiffetts, 24225 Vista Ridge Drive, Newhall
Another family affair, the McDiffett home had a ski lift and ice rink theme. This caused Judge Melissa to note, "This house made me want to head to Mammoth and get my ski on."
Judge Lila was very impressed by the engineering that went into the ski lift.
The McDiffetts fed us a sweet and crunchy party mix, which they called Reindeer Chow, and Judge Michele noted, "Reindeer Chow rocks! If you're a fan of Midwest colleges then you'll enjoy the skaters from Indiana University and the University of Michigan dueling it out on the ‘ice rink.' Love the father-son traditions here, too."

Best of Newhall
Ladanyi family, 23415 Maple St., Newhall
With a winter wonderland split into Santa Claus Lane, a snow people village and train rides, the Ladanyis offered up quite a production, despite welcoming a new baby son earlier in the week.
Both Judge Natalie and Judge Michele loved the snowman roasting marshmallows.
Judge Melissa noted, "The merry-go-round made me smile."

Best of Canyon Country
Chris, Rossana, Blake and Tristen Leidholdt, 19665 Lonerock Street, Canyon Country
The overall theme here is Grinch, but you can find most everything else holiday related, all in a magnificent display of yard art and computer-synchronized lights and music.
Judge Jim was amazed at the block party atmosphere, and joined right in.
Judge Michele noted, "There is so much to admire at this festive, fun and slightly edgy holiday-themed extravaganza! These folks know how to party, too. I don't think I've ever seen so many ugly sweaters in one place before. It made sense that they were hosting an ugly sweater contest, too. I enjoyed the décor, the party and the people. Great fun!"

Best of Saugus
Mike and Tammy Fisher, 22460 Smiley St., Saugus
The Fisher home was impressive in its display, and the tacos Mike offered and the drinks at the cul de sac party out front only added to the fun.
Judge Melissa felt it was "breathtaking." And added, "The wrapped lollipops made me feel as if I was in Candyland."
Judge Michele noted, "Impressive use of welding skills by Mike... the shooting star he crafted for the roof of his house is gorgeous... even more interesting a large real shooting star passed overhead while we visited!"
Judge Lila felt, "There was lots of attention to detail ... a very warm feeling."
Judge Stephanie felt it was all "elegant."

Best Holiday Interior
Cheri Daddario, 21815 West Jeffers Lane, Saugus
While the outside of the Daddario home was impressive, when Cheri took us inside, her award was won.
There were 11 Christmas trees of various types and sizes, huge displays of miniature Christmas villages and, well, holiday-themed items everywhere!
Judge Michele felt, "Most impressive is the inside of her home, which is an incredible winter wonderland. Her enthusiasm for the holidays is so contagious she banished any ‘bah humbugs' that might have been clinging to my spirit."
Judge Lila noted that Cheri began decorating the day after Halloween.

Best Green Lighting
Steve Marcoe, 27061 Alabastro Drive, Valencia
Steve Marcoe's home is always fully decked out for our tour, and always has a homey, home-built atmosphere.
This year he made use of energy-saving LED lights as much as possible, and so garnered the Best Green Lighting award.
Judge Jim especially liked the gigantic Christmas bulbs hanging from the tree in the front yard. And, as always, he appreciated the electric train running in and out of the small vents near the top of the garage.
Judge Michele felt, "I never cease to be amazed by Steve Marcoe's cleverness!"
Judge Lila loved the reindeer parking meters. Judge Stephanie like the "simple elegance."

Best Sibling Rivalry
Mark and Carla Caple , 22112 Altair Lane, Saugus
Mark and Carla were competing against Mark's brother Thomas Caple, Jr. (28337 Houston Court).
We appreciate the effort by both, but Mark and Carla won out.
Judge Michele noted, "Who doesn't love a good sibling rivalry? In fact, we've created a special category for these two competitive brothers. I have to give the nod to Mark, though. The Santa in the hot air balloon pushed him over the top in my book and I found the glorious tree living in the niche above the driveway absolutely inspired! Nice work!"
Judge Natalie felt the home "made good use of space." Judge Melissa noted, "The tree centerpiece catches the eye."
Judge Lila felt, "The decorations were well-adapted to the home."

Streets of light and life
Where you find the true sense of 'community spirit' 

There weren't many "street" entries in this year's Holiday Light Tour contest, but those that did enter all deserved to win, showing true community spirit and often accepting donations to benefit local charities. We had a Grand Champion, of course, but also included other champions, in tribute to the special nature of these streets and neighborhoods.

Grand Champion of Streets
Essex Place in Valencia
There has been a friendly wrestling match for #1 street between Essex Place and Wakefield Court over the last few years, with the winner alternating between them. This year Wakefield took a pass, however, and forgot to officially enter our contest. This is not to say that Essex Place's 2010 Grand Championship of Streets title needs an asterisk, as it is probably the heartbeat of "community" in the SCV.
Judge Michele exclaimed, "It's the definition of community spirit! A fun photo spot and the real home of Santa's reindeer. See if you can find Rudolph! He moves around the neighborhood each night."
Judge Jim especially liked the chili dogs provided and the Christmas tree in the cul de sac, which was decorated with Coors Light cans. "We import these from Colorado," the members of the decorating crew said. Jim also enjoyed the children singing Christmas carols.
Judge Stephanie noted that the street presented "a wonderful block party."

Grand Champion of Community Spirit
The luminaria displays at Clearidge Drive, Essex Place, Mansfield Court and Meraweather Place in Valencia
With apologies to the folks of these streets, our Signal wagon usually pulls up after half the luminaria candles have burned out. It's just our most efficient route, folks, honest. Even so, we know a good thing, even when it's dark, so we award the luminaria-lined streets of this neighborhood with our Grand Champion of Community Spirit.
Judge Melissa felt the luminaria were "a great way to unite the neighborhood."
Judge Michele really got it, noting "This amazing display of light, available on the weekends until Christmas, is a true example of what neighborhoods can do when they band together. A deep, heart-felt thanks for reminding everyone how much people can achieve when they work together! I will never cease to be amazed at this fabulous display of togetherness."

Grand Champion of Small Neighborhoods
Crown Court Circle in Valencia
This small street won't overwhelm you with brilliance, but it is neatly done-up with the several dwellings participating. Thus, it gets and E for effort.
Judge Melissa liked the little reindeer. "It was a cutie," she said.
Judge Jim noted that the street was nice, despite the poorly-timed arrival of the judge-mobile.
Judge Michele made up for that: "As usual, we got here too late to enjoy most of the lights, but I snuck back the next night to view the entire display. This is a wonderful jewel of lighting charm found right in the middle of the SCV."

Grand Champion of Small Streets
Eli Hallak's home at 25086 Cotton Blossom Lane in Stevenson Ranch, and his neighbor Andrew Hasson at 25884 Royal Oaks
The light show and music here made for a touching experience on a quiet street. And you can tune into 107.7 FM to listen from your car!
Judge Lila liked the Ferris wheel and the Santa projected on the garage door, and noted the street was "absolutely charming."
Judge Natalie felt bad for the lighted polar bear, which was down hard on a lawn, and she figured that global warming had claimed another wild thing.
Judge Melissa felt the "dancing trees on the corner were delightful."
Judge Stephanie felt it was a wonderful "mechanical Christmas."

Best Street Emeritus
Wakefield Court in Saugus
Our intrepid Tahoe of togetherness dodged the traffic jam at Wakefield until somewhere around 11 p.m. Yet, even then it was the always-impressive extravaganza of lights and music.
Judge Michele noted that Wakefield was still accepting donations for the SCV Winter Shelter and Toys for Tots. "Wakefield is a ‘must' visit for everyone in the SCV. Frankly, no street in the SCV can really compete with this holiday ‘beast' so we've graduated Wakefield Court to the status of Holiday Light Tour Best Street Emeritus.

Streets Worth Visiting
Ash Court in Saugus
Homestead Place in Saugus
Though the above streets were not entered in our contest, we couldn't help but note their beautiful lighting displays. These are definitely worth a visit.



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