When the holiday season rolls around, there’s one house that truly stands out a half hour south of Knoxville, Tennessee. Located at 2959 W Hills Dr, Maryville, TN 37803, Darrel Pharris’s display, known as “Listen to the Lights Maryville,” dazzles the eyes and tickles the ears of thousands of visitors every year. In this exclusive interview, we delve into Darrel’s passion for Christmas decorating and the heartwarming moments that have made his display a cherished tradition.
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Do You Hear What I See in Tennessee?
Darrel’s journey into Christmas decorating was sparked by his childhood memories. He shared, “In the beginning, I was inspired by my grandfather putting up the static multicolor C9s when I was growing up. I wanted my kids to have that memory as well.” But his inspiration evolved as he began synchronizing lights to music, with an added source of motivation. “Now my inspiration is still my kids but now my own grandkids and the thousands of families that come by every year to see my display. In short, my inspiration is this is my gift to my family and those that come by to see my display.”
Darrel’s decorating journey began with his grandfather’s influence, and now, it continues with the love and joy he brings to his own family and countless others. He shared, “My kids, grandkids, and the thousands that come to see it every year” and that inspires him to keep decorating.
What started as a personal passion has turned into something beyond Darrel’s imagination. Listen to the Lights is now one of the most popular Christmas displays near Knoxville, Tennessee. He confessed, “I guess it would be what it has become and the attention the display gets. It was not my intention for it to be anyone else’s Christmas tradition, but it has become a Christmas tradition for many.”
Sound and Light South of Knoxville
Setting up a Christmas display of this magnitude is no small feat. Darrel, along with his wife Robin and father-in-law Bucky, form a dedicated team of three to plan and execute the display. It takes around 100 hours of hard work to bring this magical spectacle to life. The most challenging part of Darrel’s display is installing the lights and props. Ensuring everything is in perfect sync and ready to amaze visitors is no easy task. When the lights are not adorning his house, they find their temporary home in Darrel’s shed, waiting to bring joy and wonder once more.
Darrel’s display is comprised of a staggering 80,000 lights, a blend of store-bought and custom-made decorations, creating a mesmerizing visual feast. Darrel confessed, “My favorite part of my display is well all of it. I love the music and the lights synchronized. I don’t have music in my show that I do not like. It has to pull some kind of emotion from me.” Despite the grandeur of his display, Darrel maintains a conscientious approach to electricity use, estimating that he spends only around $50 extra on electricity in December.
Pharris Wheel of Christmas Inspiration
One of the most touching moments for Darrel was when a visitor shared her heartfelt gratitude. She said, “Thank you. You gave me a reason to love the Christmas season again. It’s been two years since my husband passed away and he loved Christmas lights and he would have loved to have seen this. I wish I could have brought him to this before he passed”. Darrel moved by the profound impact his display had on someone’s holiday spirit consoled her by saying, “I believe you did bring him here tonight and he’s watching this show with you”.
Among the proudest moments for Darrel are those when he stands outside, watching the faces of visitors light up as they enjoy his creation. The reflection of his hard work in the eyes of others is his greatest reward.
When asked about his favorite display, Darrel pointed to “Muddy Creek Christmas Lights” down the road in Lenoir City. You can find Muddy Creek Christmas Lights at 742 Lakeview Rd, Lenoir City, Tennesee demonstrating his admiration for the artistry and dedication of fellow Christmas decorators.
As for the future, Darrel intends to continue decorating every year, always looking for ways to improve and incorporate new ideas. He’s embracing pixel lights while cherishing the traditional ones that make his display unique.
Darrel Pharris’s “Listen to the Lights Maryville” is more than just a Christmas display; it’s a labor of love, a gift to his family and community, and a source of inspiration for many. As we wrap up our conversation, Darrel leaves us with a poignant reminder: “Remember the ultimate reason for the season.” In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, it’s displays like Darrel’s that help us rediscover the magic of Christmas.