Southern glow

Blaine Howell family holiday tradition lights up Blount

Christmas lights bring the Howell residence to life.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Christmas lights bring the Howell residence to life.

Blaine Howell says he has a good reason for covering his Blount County yard and house in Christmas lights each holiday season.

It’s all about smiles.

“There’s nothing like Christmas lights. That will put a smile on anybody’s face,” he said. “If I’ve had a bad day, I can come home and work on the lights, and when it gets dark, there’s nothing better than flipping the switch.”

Howell, 38, of 3421 Ardennes Drive, Maryville, and his wife, Tammy, have two children. Evan is 14, and Bailey, 12. The Howells have been stringing up Christmas lights and decorations for more than a decade.

“I’ve been putting up lights for 15 years. The computerized stuff I’ve added the last few years, so now the lights are synchronized to music,” he said.

Howell said he hasn’t heard complaints from residents around him. “The neighbors love it. I’m sure there have been times with traffic that it may have been a headache or aggravation, but I’ve never had the first complaint,” he said. “Everybody just loved it.”

While Howell now goes all out with decorations, the Blount County native said his family never really decorated much for Christmas when he was a child. “We never did anything outside. We did a few decorations, but I don’t ever remember doing anything outside, certainly not of this magnitude,” he said.

Howell said that he doesn’t change his decorations annually, but he does add to them. “I add to it and get new ideas. Lots of those I get off the Internet. There’s a website, www.planetchristmas.com, and I read a lot on their message boards and watch other people’s videos. That influences me a lot,” he said.

Howell said his biggest investment isn’t lights. “The lights aren’t that expensive. I spend more money on extension cords than anything else. Annually, I could probably put it at $500 to $800,” he said. “It’s not like I buy new lights every year. I add to it, and then I have to buy extension cords.”

Howell said he has a couple of additions to the decorations this year. “This year, my big addition is the Megatree. It’s approximately 9,000 lights that are strung from a 20-foot flag pole,” he said. “It spins and changes color. I’ve also added a Gospel presentation.”

Directions: Take U.S. 411 South toward Monroe County and at the US 129 junction turn right onto Clover Hill Road, take the second road on right - CloverHill Ridge Road and Ardennes Drive is the first road on the left and 3421 Ardennes Drive is the seventh house on the left.

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