Hearne: How Long is Too Long for Christmas Lights to Stay Up?

08massavechristmas1As rhetorical questions go, how long you should leave the Christmas lights up ranks fairly high…

Given that Christmas, after all, comes and goes on December 25, wouldn’t the 26th seem as good a time as any to take them down? Or perhaps the first of January following New Year’s Eve. The eight-day-long Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commenced on November 27th, so there no reason there to keep the lights ablaze.

Yet we seem to live in a world where people can’t seem to get enough Christmas.

The escape from all of our cares Christmas.

I mean, screw Thanksgiving. 

That’s pretty much Corporate America’s message in forcing employees to work on Turkey Day, effectively converting Black Friday into Black Thursday.

Kansas City’s fabeled Plaza Lights blink on Thanksgiving night and remain on through Sunday January 12. And while that may be pushing it a bit, it’s nothing compared to downtown Lawrence.

And now, according to the Lawrence Parks and recreation Department, the city’s extensive downtown holiday lighting will stay up and on through “at least the end of January and perhaps through Valentine’s Day.”

lawrence-kansas.mainHold it right there, that’s nearly four months!

Lawrence retailer Mark Swanson – the owner of Hobbs – take on if the city should keep the Christmas lights on through V Day:

“Absolutely,” Swanson says. “Because people come downtown to see them because they’re beautiful. It’s that simple, they’re incredible.”

As for stretching out the holiday season diluting the holiday specialness, “Why would it?” Swanson asks. “I think they ought to be up 365 days a year.”

Peter-Sue-Chandler-CourtThe obvious counter being that Christmas has it’s own special look – as does Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter and the Fourth of July – why blur them all together? The Plaza, for example, decorates for specific holidays like Easter with giant scary bunnies.

“Who cares, I don’t care what the Plaza does,” Swanson quips. “I care about how it looks here and it looks great because it’s cool.”

It doesn’t lessen the effect of the Christmas season having them up so long?



“I think that’s bullshit, so there you go,” Swanson says. “People come downtown to see them because it’s beautiful. They come down to shop and eat out a lot because of the lights. And because it makes winter – which is dull, blah and grunge – fantastic. Looking at a Picasso every day does not take away from it because it’s a cool thing.”

Nuff said?

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13 Responses to Hearne: How Long is Too Long for Christmas Lights to Stay Up?

  1. Bob says:

    “The eight-day-long Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commenced on November 27th, so there no reason there to keep the lights ablaze.”

    And, uh, because they are Christmas lights.

    And those Easter rabbits are terrifying. Remind me of Donnie Darko.


  2. Super Dave says:

    This past weekend was the last weekend for my outside lights. My Christmas tree is still up and is lit up 24/7 and probably will be till spring. Now I do wait till after Thanksgiving to turn it on. My Christmas Village Firehouse collection stays out and lit up all year round as does many other rare Christmas decorations I have.

    See not all are a Bah HumbBg Christmas hater like you.

  3. Harry Balczak says:

    If they are out for 4 months they are not Christmas lights, they are just generic cold season lights.

  4. Jack Springer says:

    It doesn’t seem you are familiar with Christians or the Christian church year. I suggest you do some investigating. Christmas is not over on December 25.

  5. Jack Springer says:

    … also, we have to listen to the ku basketball crap all year … when does that season end?

    • admin says:

      You trying to play stump the chump with me or something, Jack?

      • Jack Springer says:

        I lived in another city for a few years. It was amazing — no ku basketball talk from the media. People in the KC area are bored to death about ku.

        • Jim says:

          Clarification: People who are not fans of KU are bored to death about KU. Just kinda works that way, Jack.

  6. OPKS Jimbo says:

    Turn them on Thanksgiving evening if you are the Plaza. We put ours up on Friday after Thanksgiving.
    Turn them off the day after Feast of the Epiphany. We put things away the weekend after that happens.
    End of discussion. We are civilized people now, aren’t we?

  7. FYI says:

    If you are religious, Christmas starts on Dec. 25th, but doesn’t end there.


  8. PB says:

    “Turn them off the day after Feast of the Epiphany. We put things away the weekend after that happens.” – OPKS Jimbo

    Yep, this is how it works in our house.

  9. Hot Carl says:

    Put them up around Thanksgiving when there’s a warm day. Take them down after Christmas when there’s a warm day. Not so hard, is it?

  10. Paracelsus says:

    I figure it would make most sense to have the lighting tied to the retail schedule like everything else. Switching the lights and Xmas decorations on at Thanksgiving seems reasonable; it cues people to shop. I mean, let’s keep our eye on the freaking ball here.

    Then, once the all-important Xmas retail interval is concluded, we keep the lights on until say Valentine’s Day. We have to keep the holiday season as long as possible. I thought I told you people I wanted some kind of holiday decoration up at all times. I don’t see why we’re not maximizing this opportunity. Who knows what the hell you’re talking about with this epiphany whatever blah blah blah. We’re leaving dollars on the table, people.

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