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A Christmas Display With Purpose



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Tucked away in the outskirts of Chesapeake, Virginia is a Christmas show you can’t miss – the Holt Family Lights.

Allen described, “We literally will have people that come down the street every night and they’ll tell us, ‘Hey, you make our season. Like you are a stop that we have to come to.’”

It’s a tradition that started with his father, Preston.

Preston shared, “Christmas has always been big in our family. From the time I was knee high, everybody used to put lights out. When Allen was about 12, was when we really started the inflatables.”

When Allen moved into his first home at 18, he carried on the tradition by starting his own holiday display.

“That first year,” Allen said, “I probably bought 10-15 strands of lights and I thought okay, I did the bushes. And then after Christmas I went and I think I got close to 300 or 400 boxes of lights. And the next year I started lining the house. And it grew from the little tiny 10 boxes of lights to what you see now.”

These days, Allen doesn’t just decorate, he produces a light show with a snow machine, dozens of inflatable characters, and 70,000 led lights. It’s a process that takes two weeks to set-up and months to plan.

“For me,” Allen shared, “Christmas is a year-round thing. You’re creating a lot of your props and doing your arches and everything else, we do that throughout the year. I’m sitting there in June and July programming Christmas songs.”

And right by his side, eager to help, is his daughter Cali.

Cali described, “We get to climb ladders and it’s fun. And I get to put up the inflatables.”

On weekend nights, she also manages her own snack and cocoa stand her grandfather has dubbed Cali’s Concessions. And every cent she makes goes directly to charity.  

Allen said, “We’ve done Wounded Warriors, Make a Wish, Chesapeake Humane Society.”

Preston said, “This year we are doing Parents in Need through our church at Great Bridge Presbyterian. To teach her the meaning. It’s not about always receiving, but also giving. It makes me very proud to have her out there.”

Cali said, “It makes me happy because other people need money to buy stuff for their children.”

The Holt’s have attracted thousands of admirers over the years. And they say it’s those smiles that keep them going.

“It’s about family,” Preston shared. “Just to see all the people, the crowd, the kids, the joy.”

Allen remembered, “We actually had a guy that he would come by every single night and would take a selfie in front of my display. And so I got to talking to him one night and his wife was battling cancer. And she couldn’t get out of bed. And so every night he would come down to the display, take a picture, take a video and take it back to her because it was something that she looked forward to. It makes it –it makes it worthwhile.”

For the Holt family, this season is all about joy. And they can’t think of a better way to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.

Allen pointed out, “Christmas is a time not just for gifts, but a time to remember why we’re celebrating Christmas.”

Preston said, “The birth of Jesus – that’s what it’s all about.”

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