Lighting up the entire neighborhood with your home’s holiday light display may seem like a daunting task, but the Tribune found some local and national experts whose advice will have your neighbors singing carols.

The expert panel includes David and Doris Longo, who have been doing a display at their Summerhill Township home for six years (this year’s includes 600,000 lights); Ron Irwin of Cochranton, who is a electrician and has been doing a 20,000 light display for around five years; and the Christmas Light Company of Arizona, which does large-scale displays.

Their tips:

n Start early. Read this column and get going. Irwin started his display Nov. 12 and Longos started in October.

n Map out a design concept or at least visualize what you’re going to do, recommends Irwin. His display is based around the movie, “Christmas with the Kranks.” Doris said they change their display every year and are adding scenes cut from wood.

n Check the lights before you string them up.

n Keep lights tight and secure. “Wind is really bad,” said Doris. The more lights move around, the more likely they will get broken or wires will fray. Look in the Christmas decoration section of area stores to find special plastic clips and ties to secure lights. You only need to wrap lights tightly to secure them around a tree, so clips or other fasteners are not needed in those cases, said Irwin and Doris.

n “Put a little bit of pride into it so it looks nice and neat,” said Irwin. He said you can use the natural lines of the house or the lines on shingles to get straight lines of lights.

n Consider using everything that can hold a light. Even a small pole in the yard can be turned into a tree by securing lights at the top of the pole and running them diagonally to make a wider circumference below.

n Determine good “hiding places” to conceal extra lights, recommends the Christmas Light Company. Don’t try to hide them by the front door, but instead try around the corner of the house or behind walls or other structures.

n “To hide outdoor extension cords, insert a flathead shovel at a 45 degree angle and create a shallow trench in the ground. Lay the outdoor extension cord into the tiny trench and push back the sod to cover the cord,” recommends the Christmas Light Company.

n Use a good quality outdoor extension cord, said Doris. Make sure your equipment can withstand the weather.

n Use electrical tape on all connections and end-connectors, recommends the Christmas Light Company.

n Any electrical equipment used outdoors is susceptible to corrosion. It’s time to replace your equipment once you see white spots, frayed wires or other signs of damage, said Irwin. He said he generally has to replace lights every three years.

n Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, especially regarding the maximum number of sets of lights that should be plugged together, advised Irwin.

n Don’t overload your electrical system. Irwin said most house circuits can support 15 amps and that’s including your home’s appliances. If you have an older house and you continually blow a fuse with your light display, don’t replace your fuse with a larger fuse. This could potentially burn down your house. Scale down your project instead.

n If you plan to put lights up on high places, let someone know what you’re doing. That way if you fall they can get help quickly.

n Before storing, inspect lights to see if they are still working, said Irwin and Doris. Fix any broken lights so they are ready for next year. Take the time to coil them properly and store in a dry place.

n Watch for garage sales in the summer. It’s a great place to get cheap lights, said Irwin. But make sure you inspect what you’re getting.



Learn more

For more Christmas lights decorating advice for both inside and outside: Visit www.christmaslightco.com/indoors.html.





Check out the biggest displays in Crawford County

The Longos’ 600,000 light display can be seen Sunday through Dec. 31 from 6 p.m. to midnight. There is a free public walk through Dec. 9th and 10th from 5 to 9 p.m. Coffee, tea, cocoa and cookies are provided at this crowd favorite.

Directions from Meadville:

n Take Route 98 north to Route 198.

n Turn west (left) onto Route 198. Follow to Norrisville Road.

n Turn south (left) onto Norrisville Road.

n Go about 500 feet, turn right on the first road, which is Wing Road. Follow two miles. The lights will be visible from the road. The address is 11337 Wing Road.



The Irwins’ 20,000 lights will be on Dec. 1 to 31.

From Meadville:

n Take Route 322 south.

n Turn right on Route 173 south.

n Turn right on Route 285 West.

n Turn left on Stein Hill Road.

n And finally take a left on Election House Road and follow the lights.

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