- Each year, a Check-fil-A in Athens, GA, hangs a dizzying number of Christmas lights around its restaurant.
- Operator Alex Clark began the tradition in 2016 to spread hope and create new family traditions.
- A canopy of bulbs now stretches over the restaurant’s drive-thru lanes as the dining room remains closed.
The operator of a Chick-fil-A in Athens, Georgia, has taken a cue from National Lampoon’s Clark W. Griswold and decked his restaurant out with a truly staggering number of Christmas lights.
Alex Clark — no relation, obviously — began his annual feat of exterior illumination in 2015 as a way to spread hope and start new family traditions in the college town.
When Clark was growing up in Athens himself, he told Insider his family would pile into the car, get ice cream, and ride around town looking for lights.
Clark said he puts up most of the lights himself with the help of family, friends, and restaurant employees, while he hires a contractor to handle the tree on the roof.
The decorations used to cover the restaurant and landscaping, before drive-thru lanes surrounded the building.
Each year, Clark adds a few more lights to the design, which now numbers just over 500,000 bulbs fanning out from the restaurant in all directions.
“The pandemic certainly inspired us to go bigger and better,” he said. “People need hope and we want the Lights of Athens to remind them of the Hope that is always available to them.”
The twinkling canopy now spans over the drive-thru lanes, and customers can even tune their car radios to a special holiday broadcast aired from inside the store. The dining room remains closed due to the pandemic, but Clark says traffic goes noticeably up when the lights go on each season.
“I share these view every year to my FB friends,” one fan of the restaurant commented on Facebook. “These light give so much happiness to so many people in our area. Thank you Chick-fil-A and Alex.”
One local drone videographer even visited to capture the scene from the air.
“Lights of Athens is a symbol of Hope,” Clark said. “It’s a place where families can start and carry on traditions. Our greatest gift we can give in Athens for Christmas every year is Hope.”