In today’s world, we could use more bright moments. And as the largest residential Christmas light display in Georgia, Kennesaw’s Lights of Joy provides just that.
The Lights of Joy name was inspired by Richard Taylor’s late mother, Marjorie Hixon. As a child, she was called “My Joy,” as she always was happy and lovely. Eventually, the “My” was dropped from her nickname, and she became known as Joy. She lived out the meaning of the word in how she devoted her life to serving others. Her legacy is remembered today by the light display dedicated in her honor.
Lights of Joy has been making the Christmas season brighter since 1988, when Richard started it with a simple stick tree with lights. Years later, the display has grown to more than 1 million lights. Richard and his wife, Sherri, are the creators, but they depend on friends and workers to assist with this giant annual event. Miguel and Riccardo have worked with them for 15 years and 13 years, respectively, which makes them experts on the processes. Richard leads on installation, and Sherri is the master of repairing strings of lights. In 2021 alone, she repaired more than 775 strings!
One of the most notable features of the display is how the landscape is lit. With more than 230 lighted trees — one of which has 20,000-plus lights — this creates a breathtaking visual. The house, sections of the yard and nine musical trees are synchronized to Christmas music. The inside circle is the highlight and features more than 400,000 lights. It takes roughly 1,800 hours to set up the display.
A fun fact: Surprisingly, the electric bill is the smallest component — about 4% — of the overall costs.
Richard said they don’t do the light display for themselves; it’s to see smiles on the faces of those in attendance. “We do it because we had 46,000 happy people walking around the circle last year,” he said. “I have no idea how many drove by, but they only got to see maybe a little bit less than half of it. We go out and see all these happy, delighted people, and they forget about their problems for the time they are there. We do it because we like to see people happy.”
Brandi Norman, a Kennesaw native who lives in Acworth, shared her excitement about the display. “It is a great family outing that we all look forward to,” she said. “It is so much fun to watch the joy on people’s faces as much as it is to see the lights. It truly gives me a sense of pride that this is in my hometown.”
Kennesaw resident Jackie Smith-James said the Lights of Joy was a family first for her stepson, Joshua. “In 2017, my stepson was fairly new to the United States, and this was his first experience seeing this kind of light display,” she said.
“I have never seen anything like it,” Joshua added. “It caught my eye, and I didn’t expect it to be that nice! I just thought it was a regular light display.”
Lights of Joy, at 1510 Ben King Road, Kennesaw, is open 6-11 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. Admission is free, and donations are accepted. Park across the street at Influencers Church for the walk-through display. Please no pets. www.lightsofjoy.net
– Nicole Smith is a public health professional living in Kennesaw with her epic houseplant collection and two senior dogs, Jax and Lily Grace.