A very Chandler Christmas light show

THE MAIN HOUSE of David Chandler, whose elaborate Christmas decorations and light show have drawn visitors for 20 years. (Photo by Hannah Machado)

By BRUCE COLLIER, photos by Hannah Machado
DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, FL – Now in its 20th year, the house of David Chandler, 121 Nowling Drive in DeFuniak Springs, is offering drive-by viewers a chance to see perhaps the second-biggest Christmas display and light show in town. Electrician Chandler, who jokingly claims to be related by blood or marriage to most of the families in the area, was inspired by another neighborhood family, the Hammonds, whose displays are a fond childhood memory to many.
Chandler says his wife originally started doing a Fall-themed display. This led to a Christmas display that now covers two blocks and entails more than 20,000 white and multicolored lights. Among the items to be seen are 46 illuminated candy canes, nine deer, a rooftop Santa Claus and sleigh (with as many reindeer as space allows), angels, snow-people, inflatable figures, carved figures, illuminated arches (inspired by a visit to Dollywood), and a large American flag over the “entrance” arch that helps guide nighttime motorists down the street past the display.
The fully code-compliant system runs on seven circuits, and features a musical transmitter coordinating the display with seasonal tunes. Chandler starts the display at 5 p.m., with lights-out at 8:30 p.m. A grandfather and great-grandfather, he says he does this to help ensure that kids are home in time to get their sleep.
Chandler worked on the original Christmas Reflections display for years, as well as the Nativity scene at the old courthouse. He paid a special tribute to that and to Janet Harmon of Walton County Art League, who worked on the Nativity and helped keep it painted and in good repair. Chandler was happy to help – “I don’t need an excuse to buy tools,” he says.
At first, putting up the figures and getting the lights, circuits and music set up took Chandler a week. Over the years the setup time has lengthened to two weeks.
The (free) display will remain illuminated until Dec. 26, at 121 Nowling Drive (off of U.S. 90) in DeFuniak Springs.