the archived Blog-like updates are pasted to the top of display page at end of season)
Display update: 1/14/12
Still staring out at the dark yard, missing the glow (and strobes). Even though the show has been off for only 6 days, it seems like forever already! While we are contemplating the plan for moving lights back indoors (and trying to keep them organized along the way) we are also looking at a few upgrade options for next year. Fun to dream about some new display features, that’s for sure!
Display update: 12/29/11
Just some reflections tonight. 1) Five days after Christmas, and there are still up to 10 cars at a time watching the show and experiencing the message of Christmas and Christ. How awesome. 2) BTW, I forgive the guy who yelled at my wife for walking in front of his car… (we park a block away and walk to our house so our cars do not block the display). 3) If this weather holds out a little longer, I might very well get some of the lights off of the trees/bushes before July this year! 4) as some of our family and friends know, I’m currently completing my MBA (masters of business administration) at Crown College – every class so far I pretend we are talking about Christmas lights instead of factories producing cars or such, makes it more interesting! 5) Would love to hear about any other Christian displays in the area – I just saw our neighbors (4 houses down) have an amazing nativity scene, so cool!
Display update: 12/23/11
This has to have been one of the fastest seasons so far! The show has been running four weeks now, with only two more to go. Everything has been working as expected, and without snow I think the rabbits are able to tell what is a twig (good) and what is a cable (bad). Many visitors have sent an email sharing their impressions, always appreciated. We’ve also had a few cars send their kids up into the yard (!!!!!!!) to touch/play in the lights. My heart skipped a few beats when I heard this, but thankfully my neighbor was able to redirect them back to their cars. There is very high voltage in the yard, I don’t even allow my own children to step off the sidewalk once it is all plugged in. Beyond that, a child tripping on any one of the 1000+ cords on the ground could potentially take the display down for the night, or the year. Regardless, all is well, and we are so thankful for family and friends as we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus!
Display update: 12/6/11
We’re into our second week, oh how wonderful! We’ve received some very nice comments from visitors – so exciting to hear that Christ is Lighting Christmas in our community! A few quick repairs of flood lights that were misbehaving, glad they were working again. As an interesting aside, I’ve been looking at some much more powerful LED flood lights and just received a new light shipped right from China – so bright! I have to find a place to put it outside, maybe aimed right up into the sky! Julie (oh how I love her!) helped grab some higher-quality video (now on our Display 2011 page) – I finally learned how to use our video editing software, so the quality of videos moving forward should be pretty good. Finally – we’ve had a lot of visitors over the last few days, many prayers heading out our windows that Christ will reach our guests! Peace!
Display update: 12/3/11
Hurray! One week into the show, still blessed with great weather and visitors each evening. Friday night was crazy busy, 6-8pm is still the time to avoid. Last night when I got home from work (6pm) there was a line of cars up the hill waiting to get in front of the show. Of course, other cars coming into the area sometimes didn’t notice the line, and just pulled up in the very front (blocking the views of others). I wish I had a solution for traffic control, other than dressing up as an elf and standing outside all night guiding cars. Oh well! Still a little more tweaking to do outside, some lights blinking when they should be twinkling, etc. Julie says that I’m probably the only one who notices, but still need to fix it! Wishing peace and blessings to all who see the show – each night during family prayer time we are praying for the visitors, and every time I walk buy the window and see a car outside I am sure to pause in prayer as well. Oh!!! Julie has captured some early videos – you can see these on our Display 2011 page.
Display update: 11/22/11
So hard to believe the season is upon us! This year has been much less stressful for me. Amazing how prayer and family support have kept me refreshed, and relatively pain free. Almost all of the lights are up and plugged in, songs aren’t programmed yet but there is still time for before the show starts! Snow came and has melted. Interestingly, some snow cover is probably better for the display than either melting snow or rain (circuits tripping or other electrical problems).
Woooooooooo! Halloween show went well. It was a little chilly but the lights were flashing, the fog machines filling the air, and plenty of people swinging by for candy and greetings. One poor little girl screamed and ran – bad timing, just as she was coming up to get her candy a fog machine blasted right as the inflatable spider moved its head… Hopefully all of our visitors can appreciate that I do everything I can to make it a child-friendly home, purposefully avoiding anything that could be scary for the kids. Two weeks of preparation and great weather, we have probably 3/4 of our lights up for the year already – easily a family record!
The 2011 display will have many features in common with previous years. Items we like – or crowd favorites – tend to stay with little change. Broken or boring or outdated components – they tend to stay in storage waiting for their next chance in the rotation. This year, back by amazingly popular demand, Penguins! While we do not have a specific penguin song planned, their glow will warm the snow for sure. We’ve added a “wreath tower” up front, and if all goes according to schedule two new larger 8′ trees will stand in front of the garage. Oh, and how can I forget! The tree closest to our house is now adorned with pink and purple lights.
Like last year, more than 1000 individual elements are computer controlled using Light-O-Rama hardware and software. For each minute of music, more than 5 hours of computer programming creates the animations again this year! I’ve decided to stop counting lights – though estimating we’re between 150,000 and 200,000 each year.
We have 3 songs this year. Traffic in front of the display is getting busy, and my wonderful neighbors (sometimes) can’t even get into their driveways! The show will run about 11-12 minutes instead of the usual 16-18 minutes, hopefully we’ll find the right balance between “good show” and “no traffic jam.” Again this year, we are using all Christian music and/or artists. If you like the music please support the artists by purchasing their work online (links to Amazon mp3 downloads):
(the archived Blog-like updates are pasted to the top of display page at end of season)
– This Is Christmas: Kutless
– Christmas This Year: TobyMac
– Let There Be Light: Point of Grace
Even though the family is quite busy, everyone pitches in however they can each year:
– Alex (18) is out of the home now, living on campus at Crown College studying New Testament. I honestly think we see him more now than when he lived here! While he is busy with school, work, and his transition into adulthood, you’ll still see his handy work this year. Alex is still one of my testers and problem-solvers, and helped wrap some lights in our taller birch trees as well as building our two new 9′ “megatrees” near our garage.
– Michael (almost 17) doesn’t seem as exciting about helping this year. Kind of sad, as everyone else is joining in to help and share family time. He’s spending many extra hours at school as he plays in (I think??) 4 different school band programs. Michael helped wrap some of the birch trees, and I’m still holding out hope that he’ll find time/willingness to help out with a few other things. He’s the tallest of our children, we can use his reach for sure!
– Jonathan (14) and Christopher (almost 10) teamed up again on many different projects. They’ve helped create more “megaballs” – taking red, green, blue, and white strings and wrapping them together so I can more easily decorate bushes/trees. Both participated in our massive family “sort the cords” project – easily over 2 miles of extension cords in a large knotted mess. Actually, Melissa (11), Laura (7), and Thomas (4) spent several days sorting cords too!
Special note though for Jonathan – he’s gotten to the point where he can actually understand some of the more complex lighting projects, think through design, and complete jobs with a great eye for the detail. What a blessing to be able to hand out certain tasks to the older boys and trust they will be done on time and done right. That’s real help!!
– Bethany (almost 3) loves being outside! Mixed blessing, as she is so excited to help that she jumps right into the middle of wires/lights or even starts to climb up the ladder when I turn my eye. If only I had her energy, I could go all night and be done decorating before no time! She is my expert “spotter” – when I turn on a string of lights to test, she screams “I see it dad!” so I know it is working.
– Julie remains the foundation of our family, what a blessing in our lives. We’re finally able to use some of the things she completed for us last year (please appreciate her effort in creating the purple/white wreaths that are now part of our “wreath tower” out front! More than anything, she accepts this crazy hobby of mine, helps continue to shape it into a family event, and above all she loves me in spite of it all! Julie has taken over the dismantling of the show in the spring, and has done a great job developing a system for organizing everything. She is also coordinating our video this year, something I’ve never seemed to find time to complete. Such an amazing woman!