In Mobile, residents celebrate the season by donning elf costumes and strolling through town during an event dubbed Elfapalooza For the past few years, the city has been aiming to break the Guiness world record for most Santa's elves in a single location. (Believe it or not, the current record was set by students in Thailand in 2013.)
As a nod to their Russian Orthodox heritage, Orthodox Christians in Alaska celebrate Christmas according to the "new" Gregorian calendar, rather than the "old" (read: more common) Julian calendar. That means they celebrate a week or two after December 25. Congregants attend a service that ends with blessing stars they have brought to the service. The congregants then spend several days "starring" at the homes of other church members, dropping by to wish them a merry Christmas and sing carols.
The city of Chandler builds a towering Christmas tree out of tumbleweeds, complete with lights and a bright star on top. This year marks the tradition's 60th anniversary.
Fayetteville lights up its downtown with a dizzying array of 450,000 red, green, blue, and white lights, plus horse-drawn carriage rides and holiday music. The Lights of the Ozarks Festivities start around Thanksgiving and continue through New Year's Eve. Don't miss the parade the first night the lights go on!
Boat parades are the way many California coastal towns celebrate the holidays. In San Francisco, as many as 100 boats festooned with lights and holiday decorations motor along Fisherman's Wharf. Santa Barbara's annual Parade of Lights begins with a Santa's Village event on the City Pier; even though it's sunny California, "Santa" somehow manages to deliver 10 tons of snow for the kids to play in. And in San Pedro, near Los Angeles, 50 boats — including powerboats, sailboats and tall ships — are decked out with lights before floating through the Port of Los Angeles Main Channel.
The world's largest "Santa Ski" event takes place in Crested Butte. Open to all ages, don't worry if you don't own a Santa suit — you can buy one for only $20. Plus, a day pass costs "Santas" just $23, as long as you're wearing a beard, of course.
Essex, CT kicks off the holiday season the Sunday following Thanksgiving with its "Trees in the Rigging" community carol sing-along and boat parade. People stroll down lantern-lit Main Street, joining the Sailing Masters of the 1812 Fife and Drum Corp and a parade of antique cars, before arriving at the Connecticut River Museum, where they're treated to a boat parade and light show.
Wilmington residents can celebrate their Swedish heritage by attending services at Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church and toasting each other with the state's official beverage: milk. Children dress as "tomtar," Swedish imps that live in barns and protect livestock, but get into trouble unless food is set out for them on Christmas Eve!
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Though the most star-studded holiday event in the nation's capital is the lighting of the White House Christmas tree, another long-standing tradition is to attend a performance of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at the historic Ford's Theater, where guests can watch the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future help Ebenezer Scrooge rediscover the spirit of the season.
In the town of Christmas (yes, that's actually its name), residents celebrate the holiday year round. Christmas pennants hang from telephone poles, and they keep an evergreen tree decorated 12 months a year. Many tourists come to Christmas, just 20 miles east of Orlando, just to mail their holiday cards and letters from the post office. Because how else would you get the postmark to read "Christmas, FL"?