At 43 Lake Overlook Drive in White, Sam and Paula Ferrante's residence is blanketed with nearly 20,000 lights. For the couple, decorating with outdoor lights has become an annual tradition, starting about 39 years ago at their former south Florida home.
"He's got quite a bit of lights up. I say probably close to 20,000. We have [outlined] the house. Every bush, every tree is covered with lights and then we have little figurines that are out there," Paula Ferrante said, referring to lighted items such as snowmen and Santa Clauses, along with candy canes lining one side of their property. "For one tree, I don't know how many lights he's got on it -- all the top is green and the bottom is red.
"He does a great job. ... He starts in September and once he checks all the lights and the weather is still warm, then he starts putting them up. ... He's a little boy at Christmas. He really is."
During the holiday season, the Ferrantes encourage interested motorists to drive by their lights nightly from about 6 to 11:30.
Also decked out with outdoor Christmas lights is Pettit Creek Farms, an 80-acre farm at 337 Cassville Road in Cartersville. It's A Pettit Creek Christmas Lights Display event, which started in the late 1990s, requires hundreds of thousands of lights each year.
"People [in line say], 'Oh man, thank you so much for doing this. This is awesome. It's better than last year,'" said Scott Allen, owner of Pettit Creek Farms. "And what's really cool is you'll have somebody come through that went through there the first year or two when you really needed a four-wheel drive truck instead of a car and they come back and say, 'I remember when the roads were so rough and you didn't have nowhere near the lights.' It really makes you feel good."
For $15 a vehicle, people can drive through the more than one-mile route nightly. Through Dec. 30, the offering is available to the public nightly from 6 to about 10. Until Christmas, Santa Claus visits the farm each Thursday to Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m.
Hayrides also are available for $15 per adult and $12 for children. There is no charge for youth younger than 2. During the hayride, participants are able to view the lights as well as getting a closer look at the many animals that reside at Pettit Creek Farms, ranging from camels to reindeer. A hayride or drive through is free with the purchase of a Christmas tree.
"Every year we say we're going to count how many strands were going to put out but there's just no way to keep up with it," Allen said. "So we just always say, 'We have a blue-gillion lights.' It's a number I came up with.
"They're in the trees -- 30, 40 feet high. We've got 25-foot archways. We've got animated polar bears fishing and penguins ice skating and sleigh boys crashing into trees. Anything that's standing still that's not eating gets lights put on it."
Referring to himself as a kid at heart, Allen said seeing the children's expressions of joy is his favorite part about offering the annual event.
"I ain't nothing but a big kid," he said. "My biggest thrill is I grow my beard out every year and I'm bundled up like an Eskimo and the kids look at me and their eyes start twinkling and they say, 'You're the real Santa Claus.' And I can do a, 'Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas little boy' and I tell them, 'Shh, don't tell anybody, it's our secret.' And you see their eyes just start twinkling like mad. I guess that's the best part of it."
For more information about A Pettit Creek Christmas Lights Display, call 770-386-8688 or visit www.pettitcreekfarms.com.