Friday – day 12 of Take-down

January 13, 2017

Completed the wrap yesterday…11 days. Estimated 10 days, but lost 2 to the snow and cold, so beat my estimate. Only one stake left in the ground (will probably have to cut it off). That hard soil of October (drought) sure paid off when it came to taken them out, thanks to all the rain we had in December (they just were not to far in the ground)!
Plans in work for next year which revolve around some significant changes. Sorry, you will have to wait till November to hear about them.
On several days this blog was read by almost a 1,000 folks. Sure thank you for your interest and look forward to seeing you next year.


Thursday Update

January 5, 2017

What a response…all the figures on the 8 lawns are now gone to good homes. Everything is now cleared from the top of the street down.
I’m about 20% done on the two remaining houses. Cold and snow may slow me down for the next 4 days, but I’ll keep plugging.

Wednesday – 3rd day of take-down

January 4, 2017

As expected, the visitor count for the last 4 days of the show was down, especially on New Year’s Eve. Donations for the Shrine Hospitals were also down, especially during the first two weeks (although I did get three $100.00 bills over the period).  Ended up with just over $7,600.00 for the kids. That gives me a 10 year total of $66,185.00!!!!

The take-down is proceeding nicely. I have pulled all the electrical from all the neighbors and removed the figures I want to keep. The ones still left on their lawns are whats available for taking. I’ve had two folks already pick up some, but there are plenty more (about 100 were available)…so come and get them. I won’t clear whats left till this weekend.

The cold temp coming up for the next 5 days will put a damper on removing light strings (can’t wear gloves to do that), but I did get all the lights removed from the two driveways yesterday (it was T-shirt weather). Now I will concentrate on figure and stake removal.

Thursday – 4 days to go

December 29, 2016

An update for the weekend. Christmas Eve was a busy one, but not as busy as in the previous couple of years. Anticipated 1800 cars and ended up in the 1300-1400 area. Of course, that meant no long times to come up the street (unlike Friday). Only had 2 limos and no buses, so I did not hold parking for them. Weather was pretty good and we had a lot of walkers.
Christmas Day was a surprise in that we had a lot of visitors (1300 cars & 2 limos) and about a quarter of them took the walk. It was one of the most “fun” evenings I’ve ever had. My wife even came down with Snow (our Samoyed dog) and stayed for about 2 hours…unheard of. But the weather was great with it being in the 70 degree range.
Monday was as expected with plenty of traffic, but no long waits. Had 2 buses and 3 limos show up and I pretty much let them park themselves.
Tuesday and Wednesday nights were steady, but usually not more than 3 to 5 cars at any one time. 2 buses and 4 limos did not create any problems (and I let most of them park themselves). I expect the rest of the days to be fairly consistent with Tuesday and Wednesday.
The lights are now back to 5:00 to 10:00 and will remain so thru New Year’s Day.
I did not get a great boost in my state or country count.  Added the states of NM, WA, MA, MO and UT.  For countries I picked up Ireland, Cayman Islands, Philippines, Holland, Denmark, Panama, South Africa, Japan and Costa Rica.

New Years Day will be my last night for 2016 and take-down will begin next Monday.  Goal is to have everything put away by January 18th.  Crossing my fingers that the weather does not mess me up.

Christmas Eve

December 24, 2016

I anticipated Thursday and Friday as being very very busy days…and boy were they! Thursday was a 300 candy cane day for Santa with kids lined up 10 deep for over 3 hours. Started off with a bang with 12 cars awaiting light-off and didn’t go quiet until 9:45. I had two Shriners helping out with traffic and it really flowed smoothly (even with about 10 buses and 15 limos). Estimated time to come up the street about 10-15 minutes with approximately 1100 cars coming through.

Friday night was a whole different ball game…it was huge! Santa almost set a record for one night with almost 400 candy canes given out. I think he had two very brief moments when he had no kids in his lap. It was a great send off for the 2016 season. Wonder how many folks will ask me were Santa is tonight…there is always a couple who are not with the program.

By 5:30 it was taking 20 minutes to come up the street with three folks directing traffic (including my eldest daughter), but moving fairly smoothly with only a few buses and limos…and than…a medical emergency! A lady in her early seventies hit her head when exiting a limo and it knocked her unconscious. 911 was called and we anxiously awaited their arrival. I kept the heavy traffic moving with a plan to stop them at the top when I heard their siren (thereby clearing a lane for them to drive up). After about 15 minutes we finally heard them and I stopped the line. So 20 minutes later, with an ambulance, an emergency responder and a sheriff’s car parked at the top, I tried to get the line moving again. Very slow movement for the next 25 minutes as they evaluated her and finally put her in the ambulance.  This was the first “Medical Emergency” I’ve ever had connected with Sunny Side Lights.

From the time of the first stoppage of the line, right up until the line finally ended at 10:15, it was a 30 to 45 minute wait to get up the street. According to a couple of limo drivers Hillsboro Road was backed up with folks trying to turn in to Sunnyside. The over-whelming response to my Christmas Lights, especially the traffic back-ups, is a contributing reason to why next year will be my last as a “mega light” destination. Sometimes things just get too popular!

Even with all the problems, we still counted over 1400 cars coming thru and the street was constantly crowed with folks “taking the walk”. It was also the biggest donation night so far.

Rain has arrived and Saturday could be wet (although it is suppose to be primarily a day time event). Typically Christmas Eve is far and away my busiest night, with 1600-1800 cars coming thru. With warm teperatures (60’s), I expect it to be big and so will Sunday. I’ll report back.

Tuesday – 4 Days Till Christmas

December 20, 2016

Are you getting excited yet? Only 5 nights left to enjoy the pre-Christmas lights. Only 4 nights left to visit with Santa before he comes to your house. How many of you saw the Tennessee Crossroads show on PBS Thursday night or Sunday morning? It was a re-airing of last year’s show but still very timely. If you missed it, check out You Tube.

Friday night was Santa’s opening act and everything went well. Had two assistants to help with parking and it was smooth…even with the 25 buses and 18 limos that showed up.

Saturday night was hot and I mean temperature wise!. 70 degrees by 9:00 and Santa and I were dripping. My help never showed and I was wore out by the end of the evening. At one time I had 5 buses and 4 limos…and then the Trolleys came! It really used to fun directing traffic before all the buses and limos started showing up (point to that as another reason for next year being my last).

Santa gave out over 300 candy canes on Friday and again on Saturday. Sunday and Monday were at the 175 level.

Sunday and Monday night were a bit on the nippy side with temps in the low 20’s, but we hung in there and had a great time…it was actually pretty busy. Had great help both nights. I have 2 traffic helpers scheduled for the next 5 nights, so even with the heavy traffic I expect we should be able to keep it flowing relatively smoothly. I do think that Thursday, Friday and especially Saturday, it will take 15 to 20 minutes to come up the street .

Not much change in states represented, but that will improve this weekend. Countries wise, its picking up. I now have Mexico, Canada, Australia, Germany, Poland, France, Korea and England.

Santa is here from 5:30 to 9:30, thru Friday night. The lights are on from 5:00 to 10:30 thru Christmas Eve and than will go back to 5:00 to 10:00 thru New Years Day.

Friday – 8 Days Till Christmas

December 16, 2016

Its about to get a whole lot busier! Santa arrives tonight at 5:30 and he will be here every night from 5:30 till 9:00 thru next Friday. You know what that means…traffic really picks up. No more easy drives up the street and easy parking.
Traditionally speaking, the 20 minute wait time to get up the street is back for the next 10 nights. It usually does not drop off till after 9:00. Speaking of times, the lights will now go off at 10:30, instead of 10:00 thru Christmas Day.
The last few days have seen a regular stream of visitors, with a significant number of the them “taking the walk”. Five to eight buses a night and about the same number of limos. I’ve met a lot of interesting folks to talk to and picked up my first China visitor. Actually it was a couple with an adopted baby from China, who had just arrived in the last month.
How many of you saw the special on Sunnyside Lights last night? Tennessee Crossroads on PBS came thru again. They will re-show it again on Sunday morning.
The forecast for tonight looks pretty good (much better than the low 20’s of the last two nights). Saturday night looks like a rain event (won’t stop me from being out directing traffic and a-greeting you). The next 5 days look pretty good…lets hope it holds thru Christmas Eve.
Make sure you tell me about out of state visitors when you come.

Monday – 12 Days Till Christmas

December 12, 2016

Time is flying by…Santa is about to arrive at Sunnyside Lights. Friday night, just 4 days away, he will be here meeting and greeting for a total of 8 nights. I asked him if rain would be a problem, but he just chuckled and said not in the little house you have for me. Go Santa!

A recap of whats been happening. Last Tue, Wed & Thur were fairly slow, as expected. But even with an occasional shower, we had a lot of folks out walking, even when it started getting cold the end of the week. I average 5 figures a day in the repair shop. Since putting the figures and lights out, I have replaced 2100 more lights, which brings this year in line with previous years for light replacement.

I anticipated Friday night being big and it was…but not huge, just a steady flow right up to 10:00 when the lights went out. It was cold, but that sure didn’t stop folks from taking “the walk”. Trolleys are running Friday, Saturday & Sunday (2 times per night), but next weekend will be their last. They were joined by numerous other “trolleys”, buses and limos. I would call Friday about an 800 car night.

Saturday was another story…a preview of whats to come next weekend. Started off with 10 cars “awaiting” at 5:00 and never had less than 20 cars in sight until 9:30. Beautiful night and the drive had plenty of folks 100% of the time. Had one fun time when I had 4 buses and limos parked and the 2 trolleys showed up…got interesting for about 15 minutes (that’s an understatement).

Sunday was steady, but not overwhelming and got quiet about 9:30. Bus and limo count was down, but the trolleys showed up twice. The temp was great and only an occasional drizzle, so had lots of folks taking the walk.

Update on states represented so far…add the following to the ones I mentioned at the end of Thanksgiving weekend: ID, IA, KS, MT, WA, WY, CO, MI, RI and DC (I know its not a state, but they like to think so). Up to about 28 states now, but stuck on countries at 3.

I expect the next 3 nights to be fairly quiet and I have my last “must attend” meeting tonight. Friday, with the arrival of Santa, will kick off the Christmas rush. For those of you that have visited and enjoyed the quick drive up the street, be prepared. 20 minutes waits to come up the street will be the norm during the Christmas week. There will be lots of buses and limos to help slow down the process too. But I will have at least 2 Shriners helping me direct traffic each night and I will bring my 30 years experience at directing traffic to bear. Speaking of the Shriners, by donation total has been running about 30% behind last year, we need to step up and help the kids!

Monday – 19 Days Till Christmas

December 5, 2016

There have been a considerable number of visits to my blog over the past few days, so here is an update on the first weekend in December.

As expected, it was busy all three nights…but nothing like the next two weekends will be! No one had to wait to come up the street. I never saw more than 10 cars at a time. Of course the arrival of multiple buses/trolleys always slow things a bit, but I try to get them parked as soon as possible. Yes, the trolleys are back (but only two of them at a time, which makes it a lot easier to get them parked). They will run for the next two weekends on Fri, Sat & Sun, usually arriving around 7:15 and again around 9:00. Gray line had their buses out all 3 nights and will continue with them throughout the week. Averaged about seven limos each night too. The double decker even showed up. The car count was in the neighborhood of about 700 on Friday, 850 on Saturday and 600 on Sunday.

I always anticipate a problem rate of about 1 to 2% on my figures each night (not the whole figure, just some sections), which means about 4 to 8 figures will need work the next day. Its been holding true, with 5 on Friday, 5 on Saturday, 4 on Sunday and 7 today. I try to keep complete rewiring to a minimum, unless its one that I plan to keep well into the future.

Still getting comments about this being my LAST YEAR…the power of the press, I guess. Sure wish they had checked with me first. Next year is my 35th Year and that will be the last one of my mega-show. After that I will cut back to just my favorites, and the list is growing almost daily. If I don’t watch out I’ll be back to a mini-mega.

Friday night weather was pretty good, but Saturday was one big drizzle. Sunday night a very light drizzle which lasted till about 8:00, which was just about the time the traffic started to slow down. Tonight looks OK. Sure looking forward to the 20’s this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday!

Collections for the Shrine Hospitals are running behind last year, but its way too early to call it.

Wednesday – 25 Days Till Christmas

November 30, 2016

Had a busy weekend and a slow work week (so far). As I mentioned, Thanksgiving day went well and expectations were high for the weekend.
Friday night started off slow, but by 5:30 it became a steady stream right up till 9:15. The weather was nice and there were alot of folks out walking.
Saturday night was the busiest of the weekend. Eight cars when the lights came on and it didn’t end till about 9:30. Snow (my Samoyed dog) and I got a workout greeting all the folks who “walked the walk”. As usual, I found lots of interesting folks to talk to and probably answered the question “how long does it take you” and least 75 times. We had three limos and one bus.
Sunday continued the steady stream of traffic, but it ended about 8:30. Each night I found figures that decided to give me problems. On average, I repaired about 5 figures a day. Continued to have problems with my light controller and am currently plugging in manually 3 of the 12 circuits on my yard. The new controller is suppose to arrive today.
Monday and Tuesday nights were generally wet and the visitor count was down. The first 2 hours on Tuesday evening were beautiful and warm with no rain…and very few walkers. It did give me a chance to wander about fixing strings of lights that had gone out.
Added a few states to the list…FL, IN. MA, NY, WV, NE, & MD. Two countries so far… Mexico and Morocco.
Lights in the neighborhood are starting to appear, especially the family at the bottom of the hill who completely fills their yard with neat stuff.

I’ve had a number of folks comment on this being my “last year”.   THIS IS NOT MY LAST YEARnext year is, when I celebrate 35 years of Christmas lights.