Like they do each Christmas Eve, Deborah Nilles, Kevin Knoth and their 9-year-old daughter, Megan, will board the Naperville Trolley for a tour of holiday lights.
“It is a favorite holiday-time treat,” Nilles said. “Seeing these gorgeous homes displayed so festively year after year was a true inspiration.”
So inspired, the threesome set out to create their own holiday display at their home on Vicksburg Court.
“(It all) started with the twinkle in the eyes of Megan,” Nilles said. “We believe in this house (and) in all the wonder and magic this special time of year brings.”
Although it’s their inaugural year, the Nilles and Knoth home looks like it was transformed by seasoned professionals, or a team of magical elves. Their goal: a “Candy Land and kiddie-centric theme that can be seen from afar, but is best observed up close.”
“It is awesome,” Megan said. “I can see our lights from way down the street; it makes me feel happy.”
Others agree. This year, Naperville Trolley & Tours added it as a stop.
“The end result is amazing; it is absolutely beautiful,” said Annette Wehrli, of Naperville Trolley & Tours. “You would think it would take at least five years to get to ‘that good,’ but she did it all on her first time at bat. It is a new favorite for all of us.”
The home on Vicksburg Court is just one of many that readers nominated for inclusion on The Naperville Sun’s annual holiday lights map. Every year, The Sun asks for input from those who know Naperville best, and readers shared their favorites with great delight this year.
“This year’s highly decorated homes are looking great,” Wehrli said.
“What impresses me (most) about the homeowners is their dedication and perseverance to going above and beyond in their decorating. Even if they have done this for years, there is always something new added.”
That is the case for Bayview Avenue homeowner Mike Novak, whose annual Christmas display leaves visitors feeling blue — and green — in a most positive way.
“I did add more lights, around a couple (of) thousand,” Novak said. “Every year I try to add something new, but when it comes down to putting it up in the bad weather this year, it was tough.”
When wind storms ripped through Naperville, they took a toll on Novak’s display and many others. But, shortly thereafter, he restored the magical display, which is a frequent stop for Wehrli and her team.
“The joy that the lights and animation bring to the kids — and adults — is amazing,” Wehrli said. “The entire staff loves seeing the sparkle in all of the guests’ eyes, young and old.”
Thanks to those who go all out, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Naperville.
Whether you guide the family, drive solo or enjoy a ride on the trolley, we hope you enjoy some of the efforts of our neighbors. Merry Christmas, Naperville!
This year’s Naperville Sun holiday lights map includes some regulars but also some newcomers who are excited to share their creations. We visited many of the homes you nominated (in random order), but time kept us from visiting every one (there’s always next year for those we missed). Enjoy the map, and happy holidays from The Sun!
A. 630 Vicksburg Court
The Nilles and Knoth family might be new to exterior illumination, but they appear to be seasoned pros. This house screams “Merry Christmas” in a most magical way. With giant candy canes that flank the entry, you can’t help but “believe” after a visit to this house.
B. 139 Springwood Drive
A giant nutcracker stands at attention before this charmer that is blanketed in white lights. As an extra treat, check out their next-door neighbor who took a different approach that is equally delightful.
C. 1228 Atlas Lane
Star light, star bright, you must see the house on Atlas tonight. White lights make this house pop. You could wind up on the naughty list if you miss this one!
D. 24455 Royal County Down Drive in Tamarack Fairways
This home has been called “Disney-ish,” and that’s music to the ears of Don Young, a fan of the Magic Kingdom since age 12. To make their home magical, Young enlisted the help of a cherry-picker to drape purple, red, blue and green LED lights on even the tallest of trees. After stopping there, cruise over to Killarney Court to see this neighbor’s delightful display.
E. 1127 Conan Doyle in Ashbury
The Thomas family shifted from haunted to holiday in the wink of an eye. Stop by the Santa house at the North Pole, complete with more than 30 animals, a carousel and more than 25 decorated Christmas trees. There is something for everyone at this display.
F. 1222 Oakton Lane
The Kobleski family has been making the season bright for years, and 2013 is no exception. The giant parkway tree can be seen as you approach, and a variety of lights dazzle this home.
G. 859 Raintree Drive
Many neighbors embrace the holiday spirit on this street, especially the Larson-Buranosky family. This Raintree home brings joy to Countryside and surrounding neighborhoods.
H. 1347 Hunter Circle in Fox Meadow
The Syers family has been lighting it up since 2009, in the “magical house on Hunter Circle.” With more than 18 songs to hear, make sure you have time to enjoy the 40-minute show.
I. 1164 Banbury Circle
Frosty the Snowman oversees this entertaining yard, standing as tall as the house itself. This family has decorated just about everything possible, and you can’t help but feel merry after checking out this one.
J. 1349 Sussex Road
This home doesn’t have the glitz of many, but it’s a crowd pleaser because of the hand-crafted characters that adorn the front yard. Disney fans will get their fix here thanks to the craftsmanship of resident Curt Penney.
K. 428 and 432 Bayview Ave.
It’s doubly fun on this cul-de-sac as the Dammann’s and the Novak’s team up for a one-two punch of Christmas cheer. With flying reindeer and holiday music, it’s bound to be a blue — and green — Christmas.
L. 347 S. Columbia St.
If colored lights aren’t your thing, this house will win you over. A blanket of white lights wrap up this downtown Naperville home that has been described as “simple yet stunning.”
M. 327 S. Sleight St.
Life-size nutcrackers command attention at this downtown Naperville home where the Hennessy family welcomes visitors throughout the holidays. The view is sweet from the street, where candy canes fence the yard and Santa oversees a cast of characters, even one who stole Christmas.
N. 3111 Wolfe Court in Ashbury
In their second year, the Amundsen family lights up Ashbury with their holiday display. Santa is back, and Mrs. Clause has been spotted as well. Don’t miss this effort that’s worth a look and a listen.
O. 1443 W. Briarcliff in Bolingbrook (off Boughton Road)
The Frohn home is in Bolingbrook just over the Naperville border but is a must-see when it comes to holiday decorations. Even the Grinch would celebrate Christmas after stepping into this family’s yard.
P. 1447 Sugar Creek Court in Cress Creek
Things are sweet on Sugar Creek, thanks to the Brockman home. Besides the lights, there is a train village and interactive panel that readers say is definitely worth a visit.
Q. 29w123 Springlake Drive in Shell Lake Estates
Marc Aguina keeps adding to his musical light show in south Naperville’s Shell Lake Estates, where lots of neighbors share his enthusiasm for the holidays. An extra treat is the house at the entrance of the subdivision (off Book Road), which is a must-see as well.
R. 2113 Dorval Drive in Willowgate
The McDonough home has it going on in the front, back and side yards. Luminaries outline the cheery yard, which is a favorite for many families who use it as a backdrop for festive photos.
S. 2320 Remington Drive in Farmington
The Zavoral family makes the holidays bright for many who drive by Naper Boulevard through Farmington Park. Penguins and gingerbread men stand guard, while Santa and snowflakes complete the Christmas package.
T. 827 Morven Court
The Tarulis home would make even Clark Griswold blush. When you make the turn onto Morven Court, you can’t help but embrace the Christmas spirit, thanks to the Mickey, Minnie and a host of characters. For more than two decades, Rick Tarulis has been decking the halls and just about everything else at this home.
U. 2612 Wild Timothy Road in High Meadow
The Marbach’s south Naperville home rocks, thanks to the synchronized musical light display. Check it out and enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas.
If that isn’t enough holiday magic for you, nominators said these displays are worthy of a visit, too. We ran out of time to visit them, so go at your own risk.
V. 809 Huntleigh Drive
W. 1408 Justin Court
X. 1326 N. Webster St.
Y. 1120 Thackery Lane
Z. 24546 Killarney Court
& 1608 William Penn Drive