Some Christmas light(s)

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is driving around to look at lights.  When my brother and I were growing up, we were like network commentators during Macy’s Thanksgiving parade (or any given NFL game) on our trips around the neighborhood and to Baltimore’s famed 34th street, pointing out highlights to the left, the right and up ahead.
It’s been a joy to continue this tradition with our boys.  Our neighborhood boasts a few spectacular light shows, but we’re always hunting throughout Harford County (and occasionally beyond) for lights that inspire “oohs”, “ahhs”, and in Frank’s case – “yays”.
When Collin began preschool, his teacher told us that the class would be collecting pennies for a boy named Ryan in December and visiting a Christmas light display dedicated to him.  Last Thursday, we had the honor of visiting the Vogt House on Harrogate Drive in Abingdon.  We’d driven by before, and were impressed, but when we got out of the car to take it all in, we were filled with awe.
You could see it on the children’s faces as they crowded around Santa’s workshop, peeping in the windows down low at what? – I’m not sure I’ll ever know.  You could see it on the parent’s faces as they traced the lights overhead and were dazzled by the sheer number covering the modest, yet magnificent house.  There are trees, character cutouts, and even a tunnel.
We were honored to meet Mr. Vogt, himself, who told us that his light display started in 1990, as a way of making up to his daughter for a year without lights.  In 2006, it took on a charitable meaning.
The two most important parts of the display remain.  One is the donation pipe.  100% of the money donated, including the change collected by Collin’s class, goes to the Ryan Leung Autism Fund.  It helps to pay for Ryan’s camp and therapies, both vital to his social progress. 
The other most important part of the display is also the one highest up.  Mr. Vogt has installed a glowing red cross way up high behind the house.  You can’t miss it.  Next to it is a lighted banner which reads, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
Here’s a brief interview with Mr. Vogt about his light display.  (You’ll need to login to Facebook to see it.)
If you live in Harford County or plan on visiting this holiday season, please stop by the Vogt house.  I’d also love to hear about some other over-the-top light displays from near or far!

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.