YOU CAN SEE THE glow from the Lockard family's front yard from miles away.
One year a gentleman saw the lights from the air. When his flight landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, he drove to Carroll County to confirm what he suspected: The glow came from the best display of Christmas lights he had ever seen.
About 4,200 lights cover a 100-foot-tall Southern pine tree that was planted on the Lockards' property by a relative 100 years ago. Six generations of Lockards have lived on the 10-acre farm on Old Westminster Pike, and since 1991 they have been creating a lawn and light display that includes 35 spotlights and 300 hand-painted, hand-cut lawn ornaments with a holiday theme.
Toy trains, geese, snowmen, cows, a pond with skaters, reindeer, sleighs, nutcrackers and more fill the yard. The family cats give new meaning to "live Nativity" as they cuddle near a manger almost every night.
The whole brilliant display is to "keep the Christmas spirit and the Lockard family name alive," family members say. In the early years, they decorated farm equipment. Farm pieces are on display today, including a '52 Cub tractor, complete with manure vTC spreader.
Farm equipment is dwarfed by elves, reindeer, deer and bears. No one will say how the 4,200 lights made it around and to the tip top of the Southern pine.
"Christmas magic, pure and simple," said Mina Lockard. "The ground is too wet for any truck to come in, and it's a family secret how the lights go up."
Family members say they are contacting compilers for Guinness Book of World Records to see if any other tree on a private lot is as tall and has as many lights.
Thanksgiving Day, eight family members gathered on the farm to start the two-day decorating process. Throughout the year, everyone, including 10-year-old Reggie, who painted his first lawn ornament when he was 5, creates patterns, cuts half-inch plywood and paints figures.
They pack away the display right after the new year to avoid ice or snowstorms.
Throughout the holiday season you can hear the rumble of the generator used to keep the lights burning and the electricity bills down. Both lanes of Old Westminster Pike are sometimes at a standstill while people gawk at the display. Chartered buses stop by, as well as Christmas carolers, senior citizens and Scout troops.
On weekends, Santa and a few of his elves often visit. The more the merrier, the Lockard family says.
"Forget the shopping, this is what Christmas should feel like," said Ellen Lockard, opening her arms to the display.
While many people were racing hither and yon over the past few weeks to get ready for the holidays, Westminster mother Debbie Schultze was probably driving her daughters to dance rehearsals and classes.
Danielle, 8, and Jennifer, 12, performed in "The Nutcracker" at Howard Community College's Smith Theater over the weekend.
Jennifer, a seventh-grader at West Middle School, landed the lead children's role of Clara, as well as other roles in the performance.
Her sister Danielle, a third-grader at Friendship Valley Elementary School, performed as a doll and Polichinelle.
Both girls joined 80 children from the Baltimore area and danced with Anna Apicella School of Dancing and the internationally acclaimed Ukrainian Donetsk Ballet.
"It was a lot of work, but it's nice to entertain people and to know that they are coming to see me," said Jennifer. "It was an honor to dance with professionals."
To dance as a professional -- that is Jennifer's dream.
She started dancing at age 5 in Westminster, doing tap and ballet. She takes classes in tap, ballet, pointe, jazz and modern dance at Carroll County School for the Performing Arts under the direction of Stephanie Skinner.
She is in her fifth year of dancing for the school's 5-6-7-8 Performing Troupe, where she performs locally and competes in regional and national competitions.
Danielle started dancing when she was age 3, doing creative movement.
She takes classes in tap, ballet, jazz and modern dance at the same studio as her sister, also with Skinner. Danielle is also in her third year of dancing with the performing group.
Danielle and Jennifer's father is Rick Schultze. They have a brother named Robert.
Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 12/21/98