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Let there be (holiday) lights

Take time out from the frenzy of this season to enjoy the simple pleasure of holiday lights.

We've put together a sampling of favorite annual events, as well as some residential displays in Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties suggested by readers - the kinds of displays you wouldn't mind driving to see.

HOME DISPLAYS

NORTHEAST RICHLAND

120 Morning Echo Drive, Woodlake subdivision, Northeast Richland: Homeowner Suzann Froelich said the family had to take a year off from their holiday display last year - and neighbors commented on how much they missed it. So this year, Froelich said, they're making up for it with a new light show musically coordinated to blinking lights, as well as inflatables and other treats. Tune in to 107.1 on the radio, and you don't even have to leave the car.

3425 Willow Ridge Road, Sandwood Hills in the Rockbridge area, Northeast Richland: The light and music show runs 6-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at this home, which features about 15,000 flashing lights synchronized to Christmas carols and songs. You can hear the music on your radio.

ELGIN

Tookiedoo Lane: There are light displays along a roughly two- mile stretch. From I-20, take Spears Creek Road, exit left and go about eight miles, to stop sign at Cherokee Boulevard and Tookiedoo Lane. Make a right and enjoy the drive. At stop sign, make a right to get back to Elgin and I-20 at White Pond Road.

CAYCE, WEST COLUMBIA

1616 Pine St., Cayce: Lots of lights, plus Santa, candy canes a snowman and more. This yard has been decorated for the holidays for years, and one viewer says the residents are truly into the spirit of the holidays. Note: the neighborhood isn't marked, but it's behind the mobile home community on Frink Street. Take Frink to Forrest Road, then take Forrest to Pine Street. Look for the sign at the bottom of the hill that says Twilight Manor.

509 Moss Creek Drive, Moss Creek subdivision, Cayce: Another annual favorite with dazzling lights in trees and palms, as well as lighted characters and animals, reindeer and Santa in a hot air balloon and more.

302 Hudson St., West Columbia: The family is in its second year of an elaborate display, which includes 30,000 LED lights dancing to music, a nativity, various animals - zebras, hippos, dinosaurs, flamingos and sea creatures - as well as a waving Santa, inflatables and more. Lights are on nightly from 5:30-11 p.m.

HARBISON/ST. ANDREWS AREA

258 Piney Grove Road: Includes a nativity, Christmas trees, large Frosty inflatable, snow globe, horse and carriage, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, lights and more.

IRMO

402 Ashford Way: This home, in the Ashford subdivision, is lit up beautifully for the holidays, neighbors say.

200 Aldbury Court, Coldstream subdivision: On a corner light, it's a child's delight, one grandmother says, featuring lots of lights and festive displays.

319 Kirkstone Road: A reader favorite, this home includes more than 10,000 lights. The centerpiece is a nativity scene. Icicle lights drape the house, and Santa Claus, snowmen and more adorn the scene.

Reynard Court, Foxboro community: The neighbors have all gone in to create a festive display around this cul-de-sac.

LEXINGTON

Hope Ferry Road area: Several homes in this neighborhood erect spectacular scenes that include painted figures of snowmen, angels, Santa, wooden figures and thousands of lights. An annual favorite.

108 May Morning Drive, Spring Lake subdivision: If you're a fan of the Grinch, you'll want to catch this display, with the Grinch stealing Christmas lights off of the house. And, of course, there's a small sled with dog Max along for the ride.

GASTON

5320 U.S. 321: Son Clifton Simmons Jr. said his parents started big displays years ago - and everyone stopped counting when they hit 15,000 lights. They've added even more lights through the years, plus other decorations. Head south on 321 to Gaston, on right past Food Lion and before Ball Park Road.

ATTRACTIONS AND EVENTS

Nights of Wonder: Families looking for holiday lights - and a bit of fun on the side - should check out the special event at Saluda Shoals' Holiday Lights on the River, called the Nights of Wonder.

It opens tonight and runs through Dec. 23 from 6-10 p.m. at the park, 5605 Bush River Road, in the Irmo area.

Children can take part in a hayride, roast marshmallows, ride the train, slide down the Winter Wonder Ride, try their hand at arts and crafts or visit with Santa.

Fees for activities are nominal with crafts and concessions being $1 and rides ranging from $2-$5.

Admission to the Lights on the River is $10 for cars, $20 for 15-passenger vans and $35 for buses. Holiday Lights on the River runs through Dec. 31. (803) 772-1228 or visit www.icrc.net

Lights Before Christmas: Nearly a million twinkling lights and more than 350 handcrafted images, photos with Santa, Jingle Bell bonfire marshmallow roast - and snow! - are just some of the activities at this beloved annual event. It runs nightly from 6-9 p.m. through Jan. 3 (closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31) at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. It's $8, or $6 for ages 3-12. Avoid lines by ordering tickets in advance at www.riverbanks.org.

Children's Garden Christmas and Kid's Walk: This drive-thru display in Edisto Memorial Gardens, 600 Riverside Drive in Orangeburg, makes for a nice day trip from the Columbia area. The display features thousands of lights, still and animated displays and more than 60 lighted cherry trees. A stroll through Kid's Walk offers interactive displays, including a hopping bunny, squirrel running up a tree and colorful Christmas trees. Admission is free. Children's Garden Christmas, 5-10 p.m. daily and Kid's Walk, 5-9 p.m. daily, through Jan. 1.

- Compiled by Dawn Kujawa

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