The December holiday season of Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa, is typically anticipated with joy. This year has been epically hard, filled with pandemic, recession, calls for racial justice and election strife. The holiday parties we look forward to? Gone this year. Big church celebrations? Not recommended.

But holiday light displays are always accessible. Mask-clad Tennesseans are flocking to them in town squares, zoos and fairgrounds.

The small town of Ripley, Tennessee was a winner of the “Small Town, Bright Lights” contest. Maker’s Mark erected an elaborate display of Christmas lights on the courthouse lawn last week when a team came to the county seat of Lauderdale County, about an hour from Memphis. They set up about $100,000 worth of lights, and then lit up the town square.The display will remain up through New Year’s Eve and the lights are on from 5 to 10 each evening. (Photo by © Karen Pulfer Focht)
The small town of Ripley, Tennessee was a winner of the “Small Town, Bright Lights” contest. Maker’s Mark erected an elaborate display of Christmas lights on the courthouse lawn last week when a team came to the county seat of Lauderdale County, about an hour from Memphis. They set up about $100,000 worth of lights, and then lit up the town square.The display will remain up through New Year’s Eve and the lights are on from 5 to 10 each evening. (Photo by © Karen Pulfer Focht)

Makers Mark Bourbon selected Ripley as the winner of the company’s “Small Town, Bright Lights” contest and brilliantly decorated the center of the town. In announcing the award, Makers Mark cited Ripley’s community spirit when residents banded together to save the town’s hospital from going under.

I knew we had to enter, but what showed the character I knew we had?” wrote Ripley Mayor Craig Fitzhugh, more Tennessee House Minority Leader. “Pam (Fitzhugh) immediately replied that our community came together to save our hospital. We followed the contest rules and in 280 characters made our case.”

Memphis-based photojournalist Karen Pulfer Focht has beautifully captured scenes from West Tennessee light displays, including Ripley’s and we share them with you in hopes of bringing a touch of joy to your holiday season.