Guiding Lights

Where and when to catch the sparkly stuff

Provided you somehow fight off a T-Day invasion by the extended family with the usual gourmet gorge-fest, relieving your ravenous relatives (not to mention snuffing out the usual psychodrama), you've still got yet another dilemma: They're clamoring for some post-gluttony goings-on.

Forestall a potential family feud with a good old-fashioned glow job, courtesy of the multitude of multicolored light displays and holiday happenings going down during the four-day weekend and lasting into the new year.

Getting lit behind the wheel might help you deal, thanks to the shimmer of more than five million lights crossing your countenance as you roll through the two-mile Arizona Celebration of Lights, 21000 North 75th Avenue in Glendale, starting Friday, November 26. Like a Lite-Brite on steroids, more than 300 radiant displays depict "both modern and traditional holiday scenes," starting at 6 every night through January 2. Admission is $12 per carload, and discounts are available. Call 623-362-3238 or see www.joyonline.org.

This weekend might also see the night that the lights went out in Glendale, when the municipality switches on close to one million multicolored bulbs adorning Murphy Park, 57th Avenue and Glendale, and most of the historic downtown at the Glendale Glitters Spectacular, from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, November 26, and Saturday, November 27. Events include two stages of live entertainment, a tot-friendly snowfield, horse-drawn-carriage rides, and fireworks. The flash dance runs nightly through January 15. Admission is free. Call 623-930-2299 or visit www.glendaleaz.com/festivals.

Not to be outdone, the cities of Phoenix and Tempe kick off their own slate of events, both sponsored by APS (how apropos). Copper Square represents with the Fiesta of Light opening on Friday, November 26, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Heritage Square, 115 North Sixth Street, with an interactive Candyland Concert (featuring that purple PBS pimp, Barney), countless light displays, fireworks, and a 56-foot-high Christmas tree. Visit www.phoenix.gov/parks/fiesta.html for the full schedule.

Tempe tries to one-up the PHX when its Fantasy of Lights commences on Monday, November 29, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Tempe Beach Park, 620 North Mill, with an electric light parade by the Kiwanis Club, skyrockets in flight above "A" Mountain, concerts by community orchestras and chorus groups, and a tree lighting by former mayor Neil Giuliano. See www.downtowntempe.com for a complete rundown of events, which continue through January.

But one needn't require municipal funding to deck the halls, as 66-year-old twin brothers Bob and Bernard Rix have decorated their respective homes both inside and out over the past few decades in annual competition to outdo each other's houses, which are open nightly from 6 to 10, starting Thursday, November 25, through New Year's Day.

Bernard, the more artsy of the pair, usually spends 11 months out of the year creating artful plywood cutouts of everything from choirboys to Santa Claus -- each covered in twinkling lights -- to be placed around the exterior of his two-story, 3,500-square-foot house at 2349 West Kathleen Road.

Bob's domicile, at 1517 East Brill Street, on the other hand, is an 18-stage animated light spectacular set to music, occurring every five minutes, building to a fabbo finale with thousands of bulbs -- strewn across his own set of painted plywood cutouts -- blazing. His setup also boasts expansive ponds front and back, and a house stocked with model trains and hundreds of Christmas-themed porcelain and ceramics miniatures.

"We're both the best at what we do," says Bernard. "But in the end, the public will decide who's best."

 
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