Read On: Maintaining the power of Christmas

December 21, 2013|By Ray Richmond

In a world where cutting back on our energy consumption is a matter of honor — where reducing one’s ecological footprint has become a vital measure of humans’ responsibility to the planet and its dwindling resources — one couple defiantly bucks the green trend.

Longtime Burbank residents Dick and Pam Norton don’t just have an elaborate Christmas display on their front lawn at 513 N. Florence St. They have a veritable city of lights: About 20,000 of them, drawing about 90 amps of power to operate for three hours each night (6 to 9 p.m.) during most of December and setting them back $700 to $800 on their power bill.

PHOTOS: The Norton family's annual Christmas decoration extravaganza

It requires so much energy that the city of Burbank added a transformer on the Nortons’ block a few years back to serve the power needs of a street-wide voltage spectacular.

“No, we’ve never had anyone complain that we’re sucking so much power,” Dick Norton maintains. “We’ve added a lot more LED lighting this year. It takes significantly less power. But we have a lot to run here every night, and it isn’t cheap.”


The depth of that understatement is fully measured only by a visit to the house that the couple proudly calls Nortons Winter Wonderland. You can see it in all its glory at, which features a YouTube video of the setup as well as abundant photos and a pair of live streaming webcams (one positioned on the roof and another in a tree).

No matter where you view the famous display, it’s truly a feast to behold. The extraordinary layout features a blend of hi-tech digital lighting and old-school analog props, including a North Pole train with a steam engine, an 8-foot moving Ferris wheel, a twirling merry-go-round and a double-hammer.

That’s just the big stuff. There’s also a plane featuring Snoopy chasing down the Red Baron, a pop-out Santa-in-a-box, a huge variety of standing snowmen, lifelike reindeer, toy soldiers and neon, all blending with a tuneful digital Christmas soundtrack.

In front of the Nortons’ glowing home, night becomes day. And if you walk a few doors down, there’s a similar, though slightly more modest, display on the lawn in front of the home of Keith LaPrath, whose comparable taste for yuletide extravagance has generated a friendly competition between LaPrath and Dick Norton for better than 20 years.

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