Christmastime, at its heart, is a season of generosity. Among the most gracious people are those who commit to the work and expense of creating festive, glittering displays of their homes. For the love of the season, they bring joy and Christmas cheer to strangers and neighbors without asking for anything in return. Knowing where to find these dazzling displays once relied on word of mouth and sheer luck. Then Matt Headley created the map and joined the decorators in his own selfless holiday feat.
The Google map that Matt organized, and updates regularly, shows where in Topsail the best Christmas displays can be found. For anyone who appreciates Christmas decorations, it is an invaluable tool. And for someone who hasn’t done anything like this before, the map was quite the undertaking.
“I’ve always loved the people who have gone nuts every year decorating for Christmas,” Matt says, explaining how he became inspired to take on this project. The map is Matt’s labor of love. It took untellable hours and he still is working out the occasional kinks but 2019 marks the fifth year the map has been available for all.
When Matt first moved to Hampstead in 2011 he noticed how disorganized online neighborhood forums were, especially in helping people to locate the dazzling Christmas decorations and displays beyond their immediate neighborhoods. He knew there was interest, saw that comments and pictures were being uploaded, but there was nowhere for all that information to come together. By identifying the problem, Matt was already working towards a solution.
Headley’s google map of Surf City, Hampstead and the surrounding areas shows where to find the homes decked out in holly and lights. As a mail carrier and Christmas enthusiast, Matt is aptly equipped and especially passionate about sharing the holiday spirit with others.
The map first became available for the 2015 holiday season and every year Matt is able to add details and homes to this project. While out on his various mail routes, Matt will make note of Christmas displays to revisit after hours and determine if they should go on the map. Community participation helps him a great deal. It is a huge help for people to let him know about nearby homes that they believe deserve recognition. The Christmas displays map is a project that is constantly being added to and evolves from one year to the next. And as more people become aware of the map more suggestions are made.
How you can help
Matt is always looking for more help, though. Not with the technical side of things which can be a quirky and sensitive, but just with covering more ground.
“The biggest help I need is simply eyes and ears to let me know when they see a location’s lights turn on,” he says, “Or if they see a new location to check out.”
The Topsail area is fairly spread out, after all, and Topsail Island and Sneads Ferry are more difficult to explore in full for Matt. If you come across a display that you think your friends and neighbors need to check out, send him a message with the address.
“I really want people to give feedback and encourage these homeowners and decorated,” Matt says. “People work so hard on these lights, spend so much time and money. One simple comment of encouraging feedback will probably go a really long way!”
Map Balloon Color Key:
A new map is started each year as a copy of the previous year. All locations’ balloon on the map is returned to the red color. Updates and Balloon color changes are made throughout the season.
Red = Location is unchecked or unconfirmed.
Green = Location is confirmed that the display is on.
Orange = Location has been checked and is visibly being worked on but may not be fully ready yet.
Grey = Location has been checked at least once and there are no lights or decorations yet.
Blue = Confirmed that the display will not be available this season.