'Tacky Lights Tour' will look different in 2020 due to coronavirus

Posted at 7:35 AM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-28 23:27:12-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- An annual holiday tradition of touring elaborate holiday displays at homes in and around Richmond will continue this year, but there won't be quite as many lights.

The Tacky Lights Tour is still set to begin this weekend, although some longtime participants will skip it because of the need to limit crowds and maintain social distancing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The over-the-top holiday displays typically attract long lines of cars, buses and limos filled with people who get out and walk around so they can see the lights up close.

Al and Esther Thompson on Wendhurst Drive in Glen Allen - one of the most recognizable houses on the tour - have decided to cancel their annual Grand Illumination on Thanksgiving night, an event which usually attracts hundreds of people. Instead, the Thompsons will light up their display on Friday.

They've also posted signs saying that no more than 25 people will be allowed to stand in front of the house to comply with the state's restrictions on gatherings. Thompson said he's also sent letters to limousine and bus companies that host Tacky Light tours, notifying them of the crowd limitation and asking them not to unload their guests.

“I’m very serious about this. I want people to be safe and I’m trying to do the best I can (to keep people safe),” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Thompsons' home, which features over 170,000 lights, won $50,000 on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” in 2016.

The Live Grinch at 1411 Pennsylvania Avenue won’t be making any live appearance this year, but his house will be lit and fully decorated.

“It was a really difficult decision to make,” said Brett Aliotti, who dresses up as the Grinch every year and poses for photos with fans. “But ultimately, I’m worried about crowding and there’s always crowding when the Grinch comes up.”

For others on the Tacky Light Tour, lighting up this year was even more important because of the ongoing pandemic.

“People need a little holiday cheer. It's more important than ever to give people something to look forward to,” said Frank Hudak, also known as “Mr. Christmas.”



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