Bob Hosier fell in love with decorating as a child when "the old lady" across the street draped her house in lights and played Christmas music on her porch Victrola. Bob then married into a family that loved Christmas as much as his own family, and moved into his wife Darlene's childhood home in Baltimore, which his father-in-law had been decorating since 1947. Bob got neighborly and swagged the lights back and forth across the street, sparking a tradition. "The block looks like Santa's sleigh flew in from the southwest and skidded down the rooftops, spilling Christmas about," Littlefield says. Address: 726 W. 34th St., Baltimore.
Christmas in Lights; Mason, Ohio
Remember the house that danced to Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Wizard in Winter and became so popular it made national news? "Carson Williams' show was so magical it was e-mailed and 'YouTubed' to most desktops in America," Littlefield says. "The result sent thousands flocking to his cul-de-sac." For the safety of his neighbors, his display has moved to a town park where, like patrons at a drive-in movie, 50 carloads at a time can listen to the soundtrack on their car radios and delight in the lights. The display — which includes two wooden replicas of the Williams home's facade — used 1,800 feet of lumber and 3,500 feet of cable, and cost $192,000 to produce. Address: Heritage Oak Park in Mason, near Cincinnati. festivalsofmason.com
The Liquoris; Glen Cove, Long Island, N.Y.
After 20 years of all-out decorating, Michael and Rosina Liquori's yard is a Long Island legend. It's filled with more than 400 plastic blow molds (formed plastic creations) and countless lights. "Let's just say it stops traffic," Littlefield says. "Their street is always packed with onlookers and satellite trucks filming the spectacle for the television news." Address: 33 Francis Terrace.
Christmas Boat Parade; Newport Beach, Calif.
Newport Beach's floating Christmas card to the world began in 1907 when a relocated Italian gondolier took visitors on a ride across Balboa Bay in a gondola decorated with Japanese lanterns. Years later, the five-night, 14-mile parade attracts more than 1 million spectators and more than 100 vessels, including luxury yachts bejeweled with $50,000 worth of lights. "Imagine how hard it is hanging off your house hanging the lights," Littlefield says. "Now try doing that floating." 949-729-4400; Christmasboatparade.com
Candy Cane Lane; Seattle
Legend has it that Japanese immigrant Tatsuya Kawabata returned to Seattle after two years in a World War II internment camp and showed his forgiving spirit by creating a tableau in his yard for Christmas. By the 1950s, that spirit had spread, and each yard in his cul-de-sac had a homemade stovepipe candy cane. By the 1960s, the 24 houses along "Candy Cane Lane" had signs reading "peace" in different languages. Address: Park Road Northeast.