Dimming the Lights in an Already Dim Year

Joseph Harrell


Tacky Light Tours are a Christmas tradition for many families throughout the Freeman community. This year, however, the Tacky Light Tour will be missing a classic holiday home. The Phifer house, just off of Quioccasin Road, has suspended their light show due to the pandemic.

The Phifer house is one of the largest tacky light attractions in the area. It is a combination of two homes both with ornate decorations and a plethora of lights. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of lights will not be illuminated this winter. 

Homeowner and light orchestrator Bobby Phifer said, “It’s a really tough decision to make… We’re worried we [are] going to get bad responses. Some people are really mad. They’ve been bringing their kids here for years. But what if someone gets COVID-19 from here? And boom, we’re a hot spot.” 

The Phifers have been putting up extravagant light displays since 1974. This year will mark the first time in over 46 years that they haven’t been able to entertain families throughout the community. Usually, Asbury Circuit is illuminated with over a million and a half lights from the Phifer house. This year, the display has been truncated by a significant amount. 

The Phifer house’s light display in past years. (Photo: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Freeman senior Gavin Jones said, “I missed seeing the Phifer house in this year’s tacky light tour. Not being able to see one of my favorite houses made me kind of depressed.” 

The Phifers have still decorated the large trees within their front yard. This gives visitors an opportunity to still enjoy a display of lights while mitigating the amount of foot traffic within the neighborhood and hopefully minimizing the build-up of large crowds to stop the spread of the virus. This change gives visitors an opportunity to be able to walk through the lawn and get a closer view of the lights while reducing the risk of virus exposure.

The Phifer home is not the only tacky light tour location to curtail their display of lights. The Little Sorrel Drive home in Mechanicsville, also known as ‘Christmas Wonderland,’ will be ceasing operations for the year. 

Although these homes have dimmed their lights for the holiday season, many homes still are putting on their displays as usual. The brightly illuminated Wendhurst Drive home will continue its light tradition as usual.

Wendhurst Drive homeowner Al Thompson said in a statement, “You can’t stop Christmas… if people can go to Walmart, they can stand in the street and look at Christmas lights.”

For everyone planning on braving the pandemic and continuing their light tour traditions, it is advisable to maintain proper safety precautions during the busy events. Houses on the tacky light tour see thousands of visitors each and every night of the holiday season. It is important to avoid large crowds and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

This Christmas is a new experience for every member of the community. Although the raging pandemic may end some holiday traditions, it is the perfect time to start new ones.

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