How The Tacky Lights Tour Got Started
Opinions differ as to the actual date the Tacky Lights Tour began, but the more popular decorators like Mr. Christmas of the Christmas House and The Pfifer's of Farmington Subdivision date their displays back to 1973 and 1984, respectively. Longtime residents of Richmond recall these displays and a few others as the originals.
Families quickly created annual traditions of driving around the city to see their favorite displays. In 1986, a radio promotion took the existing tradition a step further by packing up several busses to tour the homes led by Barry Gottlieb.
A year later Gottleib took note of Richmond's plethora of card card-body-lighted houses and deemed the most outlandish "tacky"! That year Gottlieb sponsored two buses that toured a collection of 11 homes, which became the first Tacky Xmas Decoration and Grand Highly Illuminated House Tour.
Three years later, the Richmond News Leader began its annual tour coverage and renamed the insanity as the Tacky Christmas Lights Tour. And in 1992, The Richmond Times-Dispatch merged with the News Leader and inherited the traditional coverage, which continues to this day. As years passed by more homes made the transition from a neighborhood favorite to being listed on the Times-Dispatch' Tacky Christmas Lights Tour. Just as the number of homes increased each year, so did the number of vehicles, limousines and buses driving house to house to see over-the-top Christmas displays.
In 1998, Matt Burgess, like hundreds of others in the region, took his family around to the best houses by getting a list of addresses from the Times-Dispatch, plotting out each display on a map and spending a few hours figuring out the best route for the quickest trip. He repeated these steps each and every year as a Burgess family tradition was established. As Matt began the gruelling process in 2004, he realized he shouldn't have to spend so much time researching and planning. So he decided to build a website to promote what Richmonders had always called the "Tacky Lights Tour". After several months of development, he launched what we have come love as TackyLightTour.com and the rest is history.