BRAZOS COUNTY, TEXAS — Nearly 200 homes in the Brazos Valley are set up and ready for the public to take a look at their large and detailed holiday decorations, registered with Best Lights of the Brazos.
Started in 2015 by College Station realtor Wendy Flynn, the website and Facebook page known as ‘Best Lights of the Brazos' has become a neighborhood guide for families wanting to peek at some of Aggieland’s brightest and most decorated houses.
Flynn said the idea sprouted from a love of Christmas and the days she would spend driving her children through the county, sightseeing lights while sipping hot cocoa.
“I’m always looking for ways to give back to this community because we love this community," said Flynn. "People like to look at the Christmas lights, so we started publishing a list of what we thought were the best lights in our community.”
Some homes are selected by Flynn and her associates, while others are nominated by their neighbors.
One of the original homes included is that of retired Texas A&M librarian, Gary Ives – or as local children tend to call him at Christmas, Santa Claus.
"The thing that really launched me into a large display and a growing display was when my son was born," Ives said. "The day after Christmas quickly became my favorite shopping day of the year, because everything’s half price or more.”
What started as a dream to share his warm Christmas memories with his son, turned into something with a greater purpose.
Now, when Ives isn’t playing Santa Claus as a hayride driver for Santa’s Wonderland, he’s adding more features to his own wonderland on Blue Jay Court in College Station, features including himself.
"I started getting so many drive-by’s, I thought, well, Santa ought to appear," he said. "So I got a Santa suit and came out [of the house] as Santa.”
The pandemic and some emergency home repairs have slowed Ives down with arranging his Christmas display this year, as he sets up pieces bit by bit.
But, he’s happy to be on Wendy Flynn’s list, making Christmas memorable for the local children, as his son is now grown up.
“I was hoping to make it special," Ives said. "It certainly has been special for me, and I'll do it as long as I’m able to.”
The list grows and changes regularly throughout the season, Flynn said.
To view the list, organized by neighborhood, just visit the following link: Best Lights of the Brazos