A: Approximately 40-50 man hours spread over the course
of 5-7 day period. My wife and two kids get
into the act of hanging lights on the trees, moving
the ladder to put up the roof lights and of
course... getting all the decorations out of the
attic and then storing them again when January
Q: How much does your electric bill go up in
A: All in all, that varies, but because the
lights are on a computer timer and we have set
hours, it probably only adds about $100 to our bill.
Q: How may extension cords are involved?
A: Well, we use enough cord to reach from the
ground, to the top of the Empire State Building with
cord left over. More than 40 - 40 foot heavy
duty cords alone are used, and that's not even
counting light duty cords.
Q: How may lights are involved?
A: That's a tough question to answer... let me get
back to you. I need to count. One, Two,
Three, Four, Five.........
Q: Where do you store it all?
A: Believe it or not, most of the displays fold up
to a manageable size so they fit nicely in our
attic. The larger displays that cant make it
up there live on the walls of our garage when not in
Q: How do you broadcast the music?
A: We broadcast a low power FM
Radio Station for people to tune into so they don't
have to roll down their windows to hear sound.
It also keeps our neighbors happy.
Such unlicensed low power stations are now permitted
under FCC regulations. On the weekends we play
our FM station thru external speakers (though not
too loud) so if you are walking by, you can hear the
Q: How do you control the lights?
A: There are three types of controllers used.
Most of the lights are on 2 16 Channel Light-O-Rama
Showtime Contollers. We also use X-10 Home Automation which
is a computer controlled system. This ensures
that the other lights come on at dusk and turn off
promptly when the shows are done. The X-10 software (HomeSeer)
figures out our longitude and latitude and adjusts
the sunset time accordingly. The other
controller used is a Digital Decorating Instant
Light Show. This comes with 19 different
"shows" built in and each 60-second show cycle is
followed by 30 seconds of steady-on lights.
Currently, this show controls our tree of mini trees
located in our back yard.
Q: Why do you do this?
A: I think you can thank my Father for that.
He taught me everything I know about exterior
illumination. Seriously, my dad always did a
great display of solid color C-9 bulb trees, along
with window candles and some of the old fashioned
plastic Santa Claus' and candles. We also had
this great hand made star we used to put on our
chimney - I think my brother has that and may need
to fight him for it! We had to rewire it a few times
during it's life and repaint it metallic silver, but
it was a touch that our display wouldn't be complete
without. I think the attention to detail and
the comments from our neighbors made me want to do
something special when I "grew up" and had my own
I also have to be honest... there is something very
cool about watching cars queue up in front of your
house to see the display, along with watching the
faces of the children of the neighborhood as they
take it all in. I like to call our display
"tastefully tacky" and think of it as the "North
Pole" thru a child's eyes.
Q: How much did all this cost you?
A: This is a gift to our community...
and I never
tell anyone how much I paid for their Christmas
Q: What's in store for next year?
A: You'll have to wait and see... I can tell you
this... it will be cool!