Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Looking for Christmas lights? This guy can hook you up with a map

The light displays are all over Hampton Roads. (Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of Sam Sansalone)
The light displays are all over Hampton Roads. (WYDaily Photo/courtesy of Sam Sansalone)

The time honored tradition of piling in your cars and driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights is in full swing.

But how do you know where to look?

Sam Sansalone, a real estate agent with Wainwright Real Estate, has your back with a color-coded map covering all the best Christmas light displays across Hampton Roads.

Check out the map below:

MAP GUIDE: On the map you’ll see pins that point to addresses of houses with nice Christmas lights. Those pins are colored either green (must see!), blue (very nice), red (from 2017 but not confirmed for 2018) or yellow (they have a minion!). As you’ll see on the left side of the map the pins are ordered into based on geography and how close they were to a house that he would consider a “must see”, or an anchor house on a trip. He did this so you can feel like you can leave the house, see a group of houses that includes a “must see” on the trip, and be finished within a reasonable amount of time if you have kids.
So you can look at the entire map, or you can eliminate groups of lights by deselecting the check box next to the group you don’t want to see.

More than 100 hours of driving

Last year at Thanksgiving, Sansalone and his wife spent more than 100 hours driving around Hampton Roads, documenting the best light displays they could find.

It stemmed from Sansalone’s childhood hobby of taking his friends and girlfriend (now wife) out to look at the light displays.

“I’ve been looking at lights since I was a teenager and I always wanted to find where the best lights were,” he said.

The amount of driving required for his job had him out and about during all seasons of the year, including the holidays, and he figured he could put his knowledge to use.

“I’ve been driving for years looking at lights,” he said.

Another reason why he thought this map was necessary was that people only seemed to know about the “big spots” or the “popular spots” and Sansalone wanted to put a spotlight on the smaller homes that put in just as much effort.

Mapping the area

The holiday lights map represents light displays in Hampton Roads that the public and Sansalone have deemed a “must see.”

But another big part of the project is the website attached to the map.

Sansalone really wanted to serve his community and one way he does that is by telling the stories behind the decorations at each home.

The public will sometimes reach out to him and request to be put on the map or they’ll recommend a neighbor, Sansalone said.

Giving context to the displays, offering up stories about the community and giving people a chance to showcase their holiday lighting talents are just a few of the reasons why Sansalone will continue to pull this map together for years to come.

Sansalone is currently in the process of creating a database of all the homes that put up light decorations and is encouraging people to submit their information to him via email, Facebook or by phone.

Interested parties can email him at, call him at 757-971-2295 or visit his Facebook page here.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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