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For some homeowners in Billings, Christmas means community

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Posted at 9:10 PM, Dec 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 10:47:34-05

BILLINGS — The tradition continues.

If you've caught the Christmas bug and need to see some homes decked to the nines with lights, there's a one-stop map featuring dozens of lighted homes in Billings - big and small.

"There's no money as part of it. It really is just people in the community of Billings who just love Christmas lights," said Jerimiah Tretin, who owns a home on Rimrock Road plastered with characters from the film, "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

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Jerimiah Tretin stands in front of his home, all dressed up with The Nightmare Before Christmas characters.

The Billings Christmas light map has grassroots origins in the community. It was started up by former Billings resident Angie Whitecotton in 2013. She has since moved out of state but still plays a role in helping keep the map up and running. Tretin has served as a sort of a local organizer since last year.

"It's a great thing. It really kind of just adds to the community. And things like this when we all have an opportunity to come together. It's really what makes Billings a great community," Tretin said.

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Jeremiah, Tretin's front yard, A.K.A The Nightmare Before Christmas house in Billings.

Tretin said the lights started out as a "bah humbug" sort of thing, but he's now caught the bug for putting up the lights. To get everything ready, he starts the programming process in July. This is Tretin's fifth year putting on the choreographed light show that includes eight songs.

"It started with something really small. Just a couple of displays, a couple of painted ones and Jack. Every year we grow more and more. I'm starting to run out of space at this point," Tretin said with a laugh.

And you don't have to have a fancy choreographed light show to make it on the Christmas light map. Any home with any amount of lights is welcome, all the owner has to do is fill out a form on the map's website. To view the map or get your house on it, click here.

Another person who is running out of space is Joe McLeain, the mastermind behind the McLight Show on Beth Drive. If you tune into his ratio station to watch the choreographed show, you'll hear his four boys on the airwaves transitioning between songs.

"This is a family affair. The boys do some voiceovers. My wife does a lot of the sequencing to the lights. I mainly do the hardware, put up the lights. the family was out here putting up lights as well. It's a whole family affair. The boys, they contribute a lot and it's fun. It's a lot of fun," McLeain said.

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Jon McLain, owner of the McLight Show on Beth Drive in Billings.

This is the second year McLeain has put on the light show and he couldn't put an exact number on how many lights were in his front yard.

"I haven't kept track. I did last year and I don't even know how many I had last year. I know I had at least 4,800 new lights this year," McLeain said.

To try and keep their power bills down, many of the homeowners on the map only turn on their shows during certain periods of the week. So be sure to check the map for details before you're out dashing through the snow.

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The McLight Show on Beth Drive in Billings lights up the night for the Christmas season in 2021.

Although with many modern Christmas lights now made from LEDs, they're not nearly as much of a power hog as they used to be, McLeain said.

RELATED: 2020 Billings Christmas light map sees more first-time displays than ever