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The Signal's Holiday Light Tour 15

Spectacular music and light show captures 15th annual Signal Holiday Light Tour championship

Posted: December 11, 2008 7:18 p.m.
Updated: December 12, 2008 4:55 a.m.
The Tisdell family of Castaic, Sara and Todd with Emma, 4, (front) and Spencer, 2. The Tisdells captured the top spot in The Signal's 15th annual Holiday Light Tour contest with their lighting and music display. The Tisdell family of Castaic, Sara and Todd with Emma, 4, (front) and Spencer, 2. The Tisdells captured the top spot in The Signal's 15th annual Holiday Light Tour contest with their lighting and music display.
The Tisdell family of Castaic, Sara and Todd with Emma, 4, (front) and Spencer, 2. The Tisdells captured the top spot in The Signal's 15th annual Holiday Light Tour contest with their lighting and music display.
Emma Tisdell, 4, points out the Tisdell's mailbox where letters to Santa can be placed. All letters with a return address will be answered. Emma Tisdell, 4, points out the Tisdell's mailbox where letters to Santa can be placed. All letters with a return address will be answered.
Emma Tisdell, 4, points out the Tisdell's mailbox where letters to Santa can be placed. All letters with a return address will be answered.
Detail from the second-place home of Durinda, Kira and Mark Evanoff. Detail from the second-place home of Durinda, Kira and Mark Evanoff.
Detail from the second-place home of Durinda, Kira and Mark Evanoff.
The  Signal judging crew of the 15th annual Signal Holiday Light Tour, left to right, Daneen Dickey, multimedia account executive, Lila Littlejohn, managing editor, Michele Buttelman, features editor, Melissa Gasca, staff writer and Jim Walker, video producer. The  Signal judging crew of the 15th annual Signal Holiday Light Tour, left to right, Daneen Dickey, multimedia account executive, Lila Littlejohn, managing editor, Michele Buttelman, features editor, Melissa Gasca, staff writer and Jim Walker, video producer.
The Signal judging crew of the 15th annual Signal Holiday Light Tour, left to right, Daneen Dickey, multimedia account executive, Lila Littlejohn, managing editor, Michele Buttelman, features editor, Melissa Gasca, staff writer and Jim Walker, video producer.
Daisy Girl Scout Troop 638 plays in the "snow" at the home of Gavin and Julie Plasschaert in Saugus. The Plasschaerts were runners-up in the "Best Theme" portion of the 15th annual Holiday Light Tour. Daisy Girl Scout Troop 638 plays in the "snow" at the home of Gavin and Julie Plasschaert in Saugus. The Plasschaerts were runners-up in the "Best Theme" portion of the 15th annual Holiday Light Tour.
Daisy Girl Scout Troop 638 plays in the "snow" at the home of Gavin and Julie Plasschaert in Saugus. The Plasschaerts were runners-up in the "Best Theme" portion of the 15th annual Holiday Light Tour.
The Arnott and Madera families of Essex Place in Valencia. Essex Place captured the title of "Best Street" and won bragging rights for the entire year. The street boasts a "Reindeer Road" theme. Visitors are encouraged to find Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer before exiting the cul-de-sac. Rudolph is located in a different part of the street each night. The Arnott and Madera families of Essex Place in Valencia. Essex Place captured the title of "Best Street" and won bragging rights for the entire year. The street boasts a "Reindeer Road" theme. Visitors are encouraged to find Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer before exiting the cul-de-sac. Rudolph is located in a different part of the street each night.
The Arnott and Madera families of Essex Place in Valencia. Essex Place captured the title of "Best Street" and won bragging rights for the entire year. The street boasts a "Reindeer Road" theme. Visitors are encouraged to find Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer before exiting the cul-de-sac. Rudolph is located in a different part of the street each night.
Gayle Mitchell and a few of her many snowmen she has collected. Mitchell, of Newhall, captured the “Best Theme” prize from the 15th annual Holiday Light Tour. She welcomes all to visit her Newhall home. Gayle Mitchell and a few of her many snowmen she has collected. Mitchell, of Newhall, captured the “Best Theme” prize from the 15th annual Holiday Light Tour. She welcomes all to visit her Newhall home.
Gayle Mitchell and a few of her many snowmen she has collected. Mitchell, of Newhall, captured the “Best Theme” prize from the 15th annual Holiday Light Tour. She welcomes all to visit her Newhall home.
A Santa Clarita home is all decked out for the 2008 Holiday Lights Tour. A Santa Clarita home is all decked out for the 2008 Holiday Lights Tour.
A Santa Clarita home is all decked out for the 2008 Holiday Lights Tour.
Detail from the second-place home of Durinda, Kira and Mark Evanoff, seen left to right above right. Daughter Cally was unavailable. Detail from the second-place home of Durinda, Kira and Mark Evanoff, seen left to right above right. Daughter Cally was unavailable.
Detail from the second-place home of Durinda, Kira and Mark Evanoff, seen left to right above right. Daughter Cally was unavailable.
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The 15th annual Signal Holiday Light Tour judges came without trolley and without limo, yet they found the Christmas spirit in cookies and cocoa. They exclaimed in awe at all the pretty lights, and soon realized the judging should have taken two nights.

1. The Tisdells
A new winner has been added to the pantheon of Holiday Light Tour winners. The Tisdells - Todd, Sara, Emma and Spencer - captured the coveted top spot with the family's extensive and high-tech display of more than 25,000 lights choreographed to Christmas music.

This is not a "drive-by" experience. This is a stop, savor and enjoy the show home. The show repeats every 15 minutes.

"If that 15 minutes can give the viewer a short escape into the magic of Christmas, then we have done our job," Todd Tisdell said.

The Tisdell home in Castaic earns the Signal's Holiday Light Tour prize of $100 in restaurant gift certificates for the "shear muchness" of the holiday display.

The absolute cuteness of Emma, 4, and Spencer, 2, didn't hurt the Tisdell's chances either.

The display, which took 60 hours to set up and 60 hours of software programming, is available for viewing 5:10 p.m. to 9:40 p.m. each evening.

Todd Tisdell describes himself as a Christmas light "dork." Sara Tisdell said she is a "good enabler." This home is off the beaten path, but worth the effort. The light tour judges (Signal staff members Lila Littlejohn, Michele Buttelman, Jim Walker, Melissa Gasca and Daneen Dickey) awarded the Tisdell home a score only 10 points shy of a perfect score.

2. The Evanoffs
A previous winner, the Evanoffs, Mark, Durinda, Cally and Kira, captured the hearts and votes of the light tour judges because of the extensive hand-made decor. My favorite part of the entire display was the bears fishing in the "river" of blue lights.

First time Light Tour judge Melissa Gasca described the home as an "enchanted winter wonderland."
"It was absolutely breathtaking inside," she said.

"Our oldest daughter, Cally went off to college and for months planned a weekend in November, giving up fun college trips and activities, to come home specifically to put up Christmas lights and decorations," Durinda Evanoff said. "This is one small act of kindness our family can offer this season for people to enjoy that doesn't cost anything for anyone to come visit. And it gave us a renewed amount of quality family time together."

The judges gave the Evanoffs extra points for attention to detail and the exquisite Christmas village display they were invited to see inside the home.

The Evanoffs are winners of a $75 restaurant gift certificate.

3. Whoville for the Holidays: The Garcias
Art and Carol Garcia's "Whoville" with dozens of hand-made Whoville cutouts impressed the judges with their family spirit. "Whoville" had grown substantially since last year and included rows of snowflake lights crossing the home's driveway. The Garcias will win $50 in restaurant gift certificates.

"This was totally Whoville," said Light Tour Judge Jim Walker.

Best of Theme: Gayle Mitchell
This year's "Home for the Holidays" theme was won hands down by Gayle Mitchell of Newhall. Mitchell was entered in the contest by Doreen Sandusky. "Families have brought their families to Mitchell's home for more than 40 years to see Gayle's Christmas Wonderland."

The Light Tour judges were warmly welcomed inside Mitchell's home, which is where the magic can be found. Mitchell has decorated her home with dozens and dozens of snowmen. She said she alternates between Santas and Snowmen because she has so much of both.

"This is the biggest collection of snowmen I've ever seen," said Light Tour Judge Daneen Dickey.

Mitchell wins a six month subscription to The Signal for her efforts.

Runner-up, Best of Theme: The Plasschaerts
The Plasschaert family of Gavin, Julie, Mackenzie and Zachery are always among the favorites of the Light Tour judges. Not only do they make the best hot chocolate in the world, they spare nothing in their efforts to impress. This year's greeting by Daisy Girl Scout Troop 638 was beyond enchanting, as was the bucket of real snow and the additional shower of "gel" snow.

Judge Melissa Gasca said among her favorite spots at the house were Santa and Mrs. Claus reading The Signal on the home's front porch.

4. The Frosts
The Frosts, former two-time winners in the "Best House" Light Tour category upped the ante this year by creating an entirely new display for the judges to feast their senses. In addition to the 24-foot giant Christmas tree of lights, dozens of new cutout gingerbread figures graced the front lawn. A new music and light show begins every five minutes with more than a dozen different shows programmed.

"It was such a treat," said Judge Gasca.

5. The Seberts
The Sebert family literally rolled out the red carpet for The Signal's Light Tour judges. This was perhaps my favorite house - and not just because of the Kahlua. The tiny chair lift and the stunning creche on the roof made the Sebert home a unique treat on our tour - as well as the Kahlua.

Judge Gasca said she felt the Seberts treated her "like royalty."

"This house is all about the details," she said.

"The personal touches of this home really stand out," added Judge Dickey.

6. Don and Kim Richards
The winner in 2000 Don and Kim Richards had "retired" from light tour competition until this year. They decided to enter the contest again to get the word out about their efforts to give the women and children of the Domestic Violence Center of SCV a Christmas to remember. They will be collecting toys and cash this weekend for the center. In addition, Santa also will be on hand.

"These are great people," said Judge Dickey.

7. Tie - Michael Singh and Nick Kobe
Both Singh and Kobe are past winners of the top Light Tour prize. They took a few years off and now have returned with a vengeance.

Singh's home is decorated with favorite traditional Christmas displays and light aplenty.

"This is a light extravaganza," said Judge Walker.

Kobe's claim to fame is the many hand-made decorations that grace his home.

The dancing Santa and Mrs. Claus on the balcony on the Kobe home was a favorite of Judge Lila Littlejohn.

8. Dave Desmond
The Santa projection in the upstairs window looks so real... well... it just looks very real! His music and light show is a sight to behold. This is a home you'll want to visit just so you can sit there with your mouth open in amazement. The countdown to Christmas clock is also a fun reminder of how much time you've got left before the big day.

9. Kim Pape
The home-made ferris wheel is a hit at this home, as well as the teeter-totter and flying Santa.

"The flying reindeer and Santa's sleigh really made this house," said Judge Walker. The judges enjoyed the peppermint rice crispy treats, too.

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