Christmas lights in tune with the times

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The home of Celeste and Carey Williamson may not have dancingsugar plums. But given the advancements in technology since sugarplums danced, dancing lights can be even more mesmerizing.

“About three years ago there were some emails that went aroundwith some houses that had synchronized lighting, and that got meinterested,” said Carey, an electronics technology instructor atCopiah-Lincoln Community College. “I did a lot more research lastyear and found some more on YouTube and stuff, and figured out whatI wanted to do.”

The Williamsons’ home at 709 Brookwood Dr. has what might beconsidered routine lights until you tune your radio into aparticular frequency. Then you realize the lights twinkle in timewith the music.

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“You know it’s funny, I’m only doing like four songs right now,and maybe I’ll have the fifth one before the end of the season,” hesaid. “But there are three hours of programming per minute of song,so a regular 4-minute song might take 12 hours to program.”

And the idea blossomed from YouTube and other Internet sites.When Home and Garden TV had a show on it, the Williamsons got towork.

“Last year we watched one of those shows on HGTV and they had aspecial on yard decorations. One of the segments showed someone whohad done the same things with their lights, so we thought we couldprobably do that too,” Celeste said.

After-Christmas light specials and sales on extension cordsthroughout the year made the project a little more affordable forthe Williamsons.

“Last year after Christmas we hit all the light sales atWal-Mart and Walgreens and bought all of our lights afterChristmas,” he said. “All year I’d look for sales on extension cord… I think I’ve got 600 feet of extension cords in my yard rightnow.”

The lights and the music are computer-controlled, as there is apiece of hardware the lights plug in to and the computer sendscontrol signals so the lights will blink in time to the music. Thesoftware is put out by a company called D-Light, Carey said.

And after a couple of snags where the music would stop, themusic now plays 24/7 at the Williamson home.

“We actually keep the radio on in the house and listen to itevery night, and while sometimes it gets old listening to samesongs over and over, I kind of do it to make sure it keepsworking,” Carey said.

Carey isn’t the only one who enjoys listening to the songs overand over, though. The couple’s children, Audrey, 8; Nathan, 4; andLeslie, 2; have decided their lights are the best ones not only onthe block, but maybe even in the world.

“It really is neat, the kids love it,” said Celeste. “It’s hardto tell who loves it more – me, Carey, or the kids. Every night ourson wants to go look at lights. We have driven around and seenother people’s houses, but he always says, ‘I wanna go see ourlights.'”

Carey said the display also has its dedicated followers from thecommunity.

“One lady stopped out on the street and I went out to talk toher, and she said, ‘The next song is my favorite,'” he said. “Sheknew what order the songs were in, and that was kind of funny.”

And there’s nothing as good for the Christmas spirit as aproject that brings the family together, Celeste said.

“It’s fun for us, because it reminds the kids every day how cooltheir daddy is,” she said. “Not everyone has this, and it’s a funfamily project.”

The display will be up through New Year’s, Celeste said, thoughthe effort it took to put it up makes taking it down a dauntingidea.

“We’ve told people these will be up through New Year’s, atleast, depending on how long it takes to get them down,” she said,laughing. “But then again, it might be July, and if that’s thecase, we’ll probably just do a Fourth of July show and go withit.”