Best Christmas Spirit - 2011
Phoenix is usually proud of its winter weather, especially on those pleasantly balmy days when the rest of the country is snowshoeing to work. Well, except for a few weeks in December, around the time that elves, failed real estate developers, and their respective guardian angels take over our televisions. That's when you can sense that the city gets a little self-conscious about our snowlessness. Phoenix actually has a climate not unlike Bethlehem, where the first Christmas was celebrated by dark-skinned Semitic people, but that's of little comfort when we're inundated with the Yuletide rituals that blond-haired, blue-eyed Germanic heathens grafted onto the saintly celebration. So, yes, Phoenix has to work extra hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Which is probably why so many houses are lit up like Sky Harbor around the holidays. No one does it up better than Lee and Patricia Sepanek. The Sepanek display uses 250,000 blinking lights, many hung impossibly high on the palm trees towering over their home in a middle-class neighborhood south of Camelback and 44th Streets. The real show requires more than a drive-by. Toy trains, real snowfall, a hot cocoa stand, and enough animatronics to shame Walt Disney himself make this a must-see attraction. Yes, there are computer-controlled music systems at many other tacky and totally overdone holiday home displays, but detail on every inch of the Sepanek property really makes this house stand above the others. Keep an eye out for Santa and/or a dog dressed as Santa.