Written by Klaire Bruce
Posted by Mark Ruda
Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights
Everybody loves brightly colored Christmas lights. There is something magical about a twinkling holiday season that can turn even the hardest hearted Scrooge into a joyful spirit. Young and old alike adore searching all over town for the best and brightest Christmas light display. How did the tradition of Christmas lights first get started? And where is one of the best places you can go to admire some beautiful Christmas light in Branson? (Hint: Old Matt’s Cabin!) Read on to find out!
Christmas lights first stemmed from an eighteenth century German holiday tradition. During the Christmas season, when upper class families would decorate their indoor Christmas trees, candles were placed on the trees and lit to produce a warm holiday glow. The candles were typically attached to the tree with pins or glued to the branches of the tree with a bit of melted wax. Somewhere around the later 1800s, glue and pins on the tree were replaced by candleholders. In the 1880s, very early Christmas lights with electrification were introduced.
The soon to be mainstream electric Christmas lights did not hit the United States until 1882. Edward H. Johnson, a close associate of Thomas Edison, proudly displayed the first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree in his New York City home on Fifth Avenue on December 22, 1882. Johnson was vice president of an electric company at the time, and he had Christmas tree light bulbs specially made for his holiday décor. Johnson became known (and is still known today) as The Father of Electric Christmas Lights. As exciting as this idea was for those who celebrated Christmas, electric Christmas lights weren’t affordable for the average American citizen until 1930. Once they were readily available, though, their popularity soared!
So where can you go in Branson to check out these colorful lights with a colorful history? The Trail of Lights at Shepherd of the Hills, of course! The Trail of Lights is a two and a half mile drive through Christmas light attraction that will fill your heart with holiday cheer and make memories for years of holiday seasons to come. The Trail of Lights meanders through the historic homestead and takes you through a holiday wonderland of dozens of different light displays. The Trail features several different ‘lands,’ each with their own brightly lit theme, from manger scenes to aliens and spaceships to patriotic red, white and blue. You’ll see dinosaurs, flamingos, frogs and a whole lot more – all larger than life! Another unique aspect of the Trail of Lights are the three dimensional life size characters situated along the trail that have their own ‘housing,’ also known as ‘Christmas boxes.’ You can cruise right alongside the boxes and peek inside to see what the elves and other characters are up to! Carols are piped out at intervals along The Trail for your holiday listening pleasure as you marvel at the millions of Christmas lights it takes to put on this gorgeous display. After your trip along The Trail of Lights, you’ll have a chance to go up in the two hundred thirty foot Inspiration Tower (which just happens to be decorated like a huge Christmas tree!) and gaze out over ALL the Christmas lights of Branson.
The holidays are a special time of year for everyone. Make your own traditions with historical Christmas lights in your own home, and then plan a trip to The Trail of Lights at Shepherd of the Hills! Don’t forget the hot cocoa.