When I was a kid, my dad had a vicious rivalry with another neighborhood dad over who could put up the best Christmas lights. If Dave across the street put up a life-sized Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with a light-up nose, my dad would put up all nine reindeer plus Santa, complete with a three-phase waving arm.
When Dave put up an elaborate Nativity scene, softly lit from within, my dad one-upped him by doing his own Nativity scene, plus a baby Jesus with red, blinking eyes. (He ignored our warnings that it would look like something out of “The Exorcist,” which he regretted when the Lutheran pastor from the church down the block stopped by to talk about the phone calls he’d been getting from concerned congregants.)
One year we even got crappy presents because he was anticipating an especially massive electrical bill.
There’s a lot of this “go big or go home” spirit in Georgetown GLOW’s bombastic displays, and freed from the strictures of Santa, reindeer, fir trees and biblical scenes, these lights have moved into realms of creativity that Dad and Dave never imagined, even that year when someone put LSD in the eggnog at the neighborhood holiday party.
Jeff Zischke’s “Snow Cones” turns the facades of Cady’s Alley into a kaleidoscopic wonderland right out of a Kubrick dream sequence. Lindsey Glatz’s “Cloud Swing” lets the kiddies swing from unearthly glowing clouds that are powered by their movement. Choi + Shine’s “The Heron” suspends huge, delicate handmade feathers made of light over the canal.
One display, Extreme Lengths Productions’ “Filament,” even incorporates live dancers, while another, Eunsook Lee’s “Pandora’s Box,” tries to encourage interaction with strangers by putting rows of light-up benches in Georgetown Park Plaza.
Check out Georgetown GLOW when it opens this Friday evening — it may even give you some ideas for your front yard.
After sunset, Friday, Dec. 6-Jan. 5, Georgetown Waterfront Park, 3303 Water Street NW; free