Frequently Asked Questions

 


 

Why?

It started, for the kids in Dec. 1995, the year Emily was born. Since then, the display has become a reflection of the kids and it would not exist without them. This has been a great adventure together and we have had so much fun doing this...

Back in 2003, the year we really started to expand the light show, my sister Ellie had learned her cancer was terminal. She called me around 6:00am on Christmas morning, from the hospital. I was in the family room, looking at the lights when she called so I described them to her, "Ellie, I wish you could see this, it's pretty funny and I'm not sure why I did this." She replied, "It's just an expression of your love, Tim." I have always liked that 'answer', and feel a lot of gratitude for having had the opportunity to do something like this, especially now that it is aiding the community through the Union Vale Fire Department.

Now I would say, the most important aspect of why we do this is the fund raising to support the community.

How much does the electricity cost?

Not very much. About $350/year, now that the display is almost completely LED's. It is a minor part of the total cost, which only I and I alone, know.

How many lights do you use?


Here is the light count history:

Year
Total Lights
Increase
% Increase
 
2017
555,000
14,743

2.8%

 
2016
520,257
11,424

2.2%

 
2015
508,833
35,634

7.5%

 
2014
473,199
80,206

20.0%

 
2014 *
601,736
    Included incadescent powered by a generator to reclaim Guiness World Record
2013
392,993
46,710

13.5%

 
2012
346,283
35,171

11.3%

 
2011
311,112
33,943

12.0%

 
2010
277,169
63,878

29.9%

 
2009
213,291
41,719
24.0%
 
2008
171,572
55,457
48.0%
 
2007
116,115
43,109
59.0%
 
2006
73,006
26,876
58.3%
 
2005
46,130
11,168
31.9%
 
2004
34,962
10,062
40.4%
 
2003
24,900
17,100
219.2%
 
2002
7,800
1,100
16.4%
 
2001
6,700
400
6.3%
 
2000
6,300
500
8.6%
 
1999
5,800
1,800
45.0%
 
1998
4,000
1,800
81.8%
 
1997
2,200
1,200
120.0%
 
1996
1,000
400
66.7%
 
1995
600
 

 


How many extension cords do you use?

Our current estimate is over 2,500 with a total length of greater than 8 miles. If you add in the length of all the light strands, there is over 37 miles of wire outside. In addition to this, there is over a mile of rope, wire rope and Cat5e cable outside!

 

How do you synchronize the lights to music?

We use software and hardware from Light-O-Rama. The computer software allows you to sequence the music to 1/20th of a second or less. The process is manual, and can take anywhere from about 5-30 hours depending on the complexity of the song and display.

 

How long does it take you?

This is the most frequent question we get asked and in order to provide an accurate answer we kept records in 2010. Based on the records we kept in 2010, I estimate about 1,200 man hours in 2015. With the kids now grown, and more capable, it is taking less time, even though the display is so much larger. Also, with so many songs already choreographed, we are adding less songs this year.

The display is worked on through out the calendar Year.

2010 Actual
Creation of New
Display
Display 
In Hours Display Design Music Choreographing
Display Elements
Put Up
Take Down
Total
Tim
26
367
36
144
55
628
Daniel
72
44
129
55
300
John
20
44
135
55
254
Grace
6
22
10
38
Emily
6
14
10
30
Brian
18
17
55
90
Guest
12
12
  Total
26
459
154
473
240
Total Man Hours ==> 1,352

 

 

Some of your songs are not holiday songs?

U2's song, ‘City of Blinding Lights’ was an inspiration to animate our display. It is always the first song played each night.

Since that time, we have added songs that we feel are uplifting and a reflection of what the holidays are really about, and this does include many holiday songs.


How come you don’t leave it up until after New Years?

I appreciate the interest, but it just isn't possible.  We have to take advantage of the time off from work and school.