SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Entering into the holiday season, the days grow steadily shorter, with night coming sooner as the winter wears on. With darkness falling so soon, a popular pastime for many is driving around to take in the sight of neighborhood Christmas lights.
In the city of Sioux Falls, such an activity can seem daunting due to the size of the town and the distance between different light displays. In order to remedy this issue, one Sioux Falls man has constructed a map to guide drivers on a route through the city.
Josh Hayes, the mapmaker in question, began the project in 2020. “My wife is a nurse in Sioux Falls,” Hayes explained. “She was working on a Christmas Day and we wanted to go see Christmas lights all throughout Sioux Falls.”
Hayes says he found lists online of popular Christmas light locations, but that wasn’t exactly efficient. “We were driving from the east side of Sioux Falls, to the west side, to the south side — back to the west side — we finally gave up after about two hours and had only seen about 3 or 4 neighborhoods.”
One night, Hayes decided to tackle the project.
“I was up with my baby during the night and I was like okay, this is the perfect time to create this map that I’ve thought about for years,” said Hayes. “That was just supposed to be for my wife and I.”
But the map spread. “We live on one of the neighborhoods that decorates, and we shared it with our neighborhood on a Facebook group, and from there it got shared and had about 8,000 clicks last year,” Hayes said.
What sets this map apart from so many other lists of Christmas light stops is the way the journey is laid out.
“It has the route,” said Hayes. “It’ll make you start at Falls Park, and then it’ll take about an hour of driving time to go through all the places.”
Hayes says the route is set up to be both efficient and economical, avoiding much back-tracking and unnecessary trips across town.
While not a money making venture, Hayes puts effort into the project. “A couple friends and I each year get together and drive through the route — we get submissions every year from people who say ‘why isn’t this on the list’, and we will say is this worth the time, and does it fit in with the route — is it good enough to be on that list.”
Hayes says some new stops have been added to the route this year, and some have also been removed. “We have 4 or 5 new stops, and we took away about 4 or 5 from last year,” he said. “There were some addresses or neighborhoods that maybe weren’t as good this year, or some that were better, so we really are picky with the ones that we put on there.”
If you think your house or someone else’s should be added, you can submit the address for next year’s map here.
Hayes also says that just because a house isn’t listed, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not on the route, as the route is designed so that there are many lights as you drive between destinations.
A big piece of advice he offers to those who plan to embark on the drive: take your time and explore.
“You’re gonna be seeing a lot of Christmas lights along the way as well. Just because there isn’t a stop or a marker there doesn’t mean you’re not gonna see lights — don’t follow your GPS once you get to the location. Really do your own exploring; look around the neighborhood.”
Hayes says this is because while only one address can be listed on the map at a time, there may be multiple streets in the neighborhood decked out. “Let your GPS recalculate. That’s what it’s for,” he said.