The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The Park Cities gear up for yet another epic Christmas

DALLAS – Bettina England is one of those Dallasites who absolutely love the Christmas season.

“I would love to have Christmas lights up for longer than just the month of December if I could,” said England.

In the Highland Park and University Park neighborhoods of Dallas, families gather their Christmas gear and strap their houses with a dramatic display of holiday cheer. These neighborhoods are famous for their epic display of the Christmas spirit.

From families like England’s that use companies to set up their lights to those that do it themselves, the lighting in these neighborhoods is a sincerely special experience. Large homes with very detailed lighting brighten up the neighborhood roads throughout the Christmas season. Some folks are in it for pure holiday entertainment. Others like carriage rides and lighting companies look to make a pretty penny. Either way, Christmas time in Highland Park and University Park is truly buzzing around this time of the year.

England’s house is located just south of Lovers Lane on Turtle Creek Boulevard. She is married with three kids and has been decorating her Dallas home since she and her family moved in seven years ago.

It is one of the many beautiful Turtle Creek mansions; glistening wreaths with apples and white bows with glittery ribbon drape across the exterior, accompanied by carefully detailed traditional white Christmas lights. The two large drooping trees in the front yard are wrapped with a barrage of lights and are complemented by several large hanging lit stars.

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“All Christmas decorations are magical,” said England.

England’s family, however, did not craft the elaborate decorations. Rather, they sought help from a professional lighting company, Christmas Tree Wonderland. Christmas Tree Wonderland is one of several Christmas lighting companies in the Dallas area. These companies succeed immensely, as many of the Highland Park and University Park residents choose a similar option as England did. England said much of the success of these companies is having repeat customers.

“They charge way too much,” said England, “but the result always pays off.”

There are still several Highland Park and University Park residents that prefer to do the holiday lighting on their own. Jennifer Jordan and her family have been lighting their Highland Park home up with the Christmas spirit since 1998, when they moved to Dallas.

“We’ll take the girls to get ice cream,” said Jordan. “We just drive around looking at all of the amazing Dallas homes all lit up.”

Jordan and her husband raise four young daughters in a cozy stone and red brick home, which they moved into in 2002. For Jordan and her family, setting up Christmas lights is a family tradition. The Sunday following Thanksgiving the family begins decking their house out with Christmas gear. Jordan and her daughters decorate the inside of the house, while dad is stuck doing the grunt work outside. But doing that job solo causes some uneasiness with Jordan.

“I won’t let him get on the roof,” said Jordan, “I’m afraid he might fall.”

Instead, the front yard of the Jordan household has multi-colored lights illuminating the pathway from the sidewalk to the front door. The lawn has an inflatable decoration called Santa’s Snack Wagon. The main entrance has a colorfully lit snowman statue greeting you as you approach the front door.

The effort of the Highland Park and University Park residents is far from underappreciated. The homes have become a typical Christmas destination for residents of the Dallas area. The display of holiday spirit has turned into a moneymaking business for some. Aside from lighting companies, Christmas carriage rides exploit the exhibition of the holiday lights.

The Brazos Carriage rides are just one of the ways Dallas residents can see the amazing display of Christmas lights. The horse drawn rides are charmingly decorated carriages suited with warm blankets and Christmas tunes. The carriages take you on a one-hour stroll through the glistening mansions of Highland and University Park.

“There was one street with a row of trees, each tree having a different color, it was amazing,” said Jack Howarth, a Dallas resident.

Southern Methodist University, which sits in the middle of Highland Park and University Park, provides their own twist of holiday spirit. For 40 years, SMU’s Student Foundation has put on the Celebration of Lights at the iconic Dallas Hall.

“The Celebration of Lights is the most nostalgic tradition at SMU,” said Keena Rood, the Student Foundation Campus Event Chairman. “The unique interactions each attendee experiences make you feel connected to the university.”

Nearly 138,000 lights are used to illuminate Dallas Hall’s pillars and several surrounding trees. Aside from the SMU community, the Celebration of Lights is open to anyone in the surrounding area. The lights are turned on every night until the end of the first semester so students have the pleasure of seeing the wonderful exhibit all the way through exam week.

“It’s really nice to have such beautiful lights to look at when I leave the library after a long night of studying,” said Ashley Corrigan, SMU student. “It really brightens up my spirits during such a stressful time.”

Although Texas has an eccentric wintery weather Christmas season, Dallas residents find many ways to bring holiday joy to the Big D. Whether you are in it for the money or just for the spirit of the holidays, the Park Cities are one of the most iconic Christmas destinations in Texas.

“It truly is a special place to be during such a special time of year,” said Corrigan.

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