Thursday – Only 4 Nights Left

December 28, 2017

The end is fast approaching. Usually the days after Christmas Day tend to be on the slow side with one or two cars at a time…not so this year. The last two nights have been busy with an average of 5-6 cars at any one time from 5:00 right up to 9:30. The lights are on till 10:00.

Looking over the last week speaks of a very successful Christmas Light showing. As I mentioned Thursday was huge and Friday was impacted by the rain, but still managed in excess of 1200 cars.

Saturday was Santa’s last day (ever at Sunnyside Lights) and it really caused a traffic backup. Seemed everyone wanted a picture with Santa and they didn’t care where they parked. It caused a huge backup of traffic from 6:00 to 10:00 with up to 45 minute waits driving up the street. Certainly not my ideal scenario for enjoying the Christmas Lights. Sure will miss Santa in the coming years! He set a new record for candy canes…over 2200 given out.

Christmas Eve was huge, as expected, but traffic flow was very good with only a 20 minute average wait to drive up the street. We had a lot of folks out walking and Shrine donations set a new one day record.
Christmas Day was also very strong with lots of walkers.

Looking back over the season we had 5 nights with over 1800 cars per night, 6 with over 1200 cars per night and most of the others with between 500 and 1000 cars. If you figure each car had about 3 folks (thats conservative), that adds up to at least 30,000 visitors. And, of course, I am not even considering the bulk carriers (buses and limos) of which there were many (at least 100 trips).

My thanks really go out to my Masonic brothers who came out to help with traffic control, especially this past weekend (Thursday thru Sunday).
With a few days yet to go it looks like your donations to the Shrine Hospitals will exceed last year by over a $1,000. This will bring our 11 year total (why didn’t I start it 30 years ago) to over $75,000.00!!!

I’ve added a few more states and countries and will update on the next post.


So What Happens After “My Last” Year

December 24, 2017

As you can imagine this is one of my most frequently asked questions. My answer is that I am scaling back by approximately 2/3rd. In the coming years I will display across the 2 houses by favorite figures. I envision having about 100 figures on display (out of the current 300) and almost no light strings (the house will still have icicles and framed windows and doors). It will be a drive-by display with no walking.

Another frequent question is what are you doing with the figures…for sale maybe? The short answer is no. I will keep about 200 figures and rotate them each year and I am giving the remainder to my nephew who wants to have a large display (lives in Manchester). I have about 40,000 lights to dispose of and they have mostly been spoken for. And for you really dedicated types, Santa’s House is available!

Santa’s Last Day – 2 Days Till Christmas

December 23, 2017

Santa has just about finished his last 8 day visit to SunnySide Lights. Tonight will be his last night and it should be a really big one.

Thursday night, expectations were high for lots of visitors…and they came! Santa gave out around 450 candy canes, his most ever in one night. The car count went over 1800 at 9:00 and it stayed busy right up to 10:15. Traffic delays averaged about 20 minutes from 6:00 to 9:15 and hit as high as 35 minutes at one time.

Friday night expectations should have been high, but with the rain forecast I knew it would be relatively low. Cancelled 2 of my 3 traffic helpers and that turned out to be the right call. It was busy, but not for the last pre-Christmas weekend. Surprisingly we had a lot of walkers and the donations were good. Had quite a few conversations with visitors and was presented a water color painting of the display…WOW!

Tonight promises to be a biggy! The weather looks good, although a might cool (hey, its winter). I expect to hit 2,000 cars again and Santa may set another record for candy canes. Parking has become a problem with the 4.75 inches of rain we have received in the last 36 hours as the shoulders of the road have become very soft (and muddy).
But we will do the best we can.

Christmas Eve is always one of our 2 biggest nights for visitors and it will feel like Christmas has arrived with temperatures in the 20’s. Without Santa there are fewer walkers, so traffic tends to move a little bit faster (no buses and few limos also helps). It seems there is always a rush when church services end.

Christmas Day is no slouch either on visitor count and I expect to be out meeting and greeting…probably for the last time since the next week is not very busy.

Lights are on till 10:30 for tonight and tomorrow night and than go back to 5:00 to 10:00 thru New Years Day (which ends it all).

Wednesday – 5 Nights till Christmas

December 20, 2017

Christmas is almost here! Santa will only be at Sunnyside Lights for 4 more nights! This December sure has gone past quickly.
Last weekend was very busy, with Saturday being the standout (almost 2,000 cars). Lots of buses & limos and hundreds and hundreds of cars. All 3 nights were great for walking and Santa averages about 280 candy canes a night.

Monday night was very pleasant and we were busy from 5:00 to 9:30, when Santa left. Tuesday was interesting. Started off with a very light drizzle and a steady flow of visitors. Channel 2 showed up to do an interview right at 5:00 and their truck was parked right in the center of the turn-around. They wanted to stay to see Santa arrive, as did several other folks with children. At 5:40 we were still waiting…Santa is never late! He finally arrived at 6:00 and everyone had waited for him. Turns out the accident which shut down I-65 caused a reroute of going home folks to Franklin RD and Hillsboro RD, which brought traffic to a practical standstill on Hillsboro Rd (think 30 minutes to go 2.2 miles). The traffic problems, accompanied by the rain (which arrived in earnest around 8:00), put a real damper on visitors. I was actually surprised how many folks braved the drizzle & later rain to walk on the driveway. Santa gave out about 100 candy canes.

Tonight and tomorrow (Wed & Thu) look to be warm, no rain nights. With the recent TV exposure (we have been on Fox, Channel 2 & Channel 4 in the last 7 days), along with print stories and on-line features, expectations are high for packed house.

An update on out of state (and out of country) visitors follows. If you know of some state that has been represented and not listed, please let me know. AL, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, NV, NC, PA, TX, VA, WA and WI. Countries represented are New Zealand, Great Britain, Japan, Norway, Nigeria, Pakistan, Burma, Ukraine, Mexico & Canada. My all time record was a few years ago when I hit 48 states (missed Maine and Idaho) and 17 countries.

The word has certainly got around that this is my LAST year. Although there are several reasons for my 35th year being my last year, the basic reason is that it is my 35th year (over 1300 nights of lights). Will lights disappear from my yard?…not likely (as in over my dead body). I will be going from a walking destination to a drive-by visit. I will drop from the approximately 98,000 lights and 300 figures this year to under 30,000 lights and 100 figures. They will be spread out over the upper half of the lawn. All the perimeter and driveway fence lines will disappear (hence no walking). Only a 100 figures??…how many houses have a 100 figures in their yard? Yep, I will keep it interesting and continue to give BJ his lights.

Finally – Santa Starts Tonight

December 15, 2017

I sure have missed Santa and so have the dozens of people who asked where he was. He starts tonight! For the next 8 days we will be able to enjoy the jolly fellow himself. He promised he will be here every night thru December 23rd from 5:30 to 9:30. Of course, that means a lot more traffic, so plan ahead. Generally, the shortest lines will be Monday thru Wednesday, after 8:00.

The weather looks promising for the next week (except for Sunday’s chance of rain) with highs in the 50’s. Articles coming out in the Tennessean and by Ms. Cheap, along with TV exposure, promises a large turnout each night, so please be prepared for a 10-20 minute drive up the street (that’s optimistic for the weekends). If you want to walk (which is pretty rewarding since I hide figures you can’t see from the street) grab the first parking spot you come across. I expect 20+ buses each night along with the same number of limos…and they really slow things down. Of course, I have help with traffic control for the next 9 nights.

Tuesday and Thursday night found few figures needing attention, but Wednesday night was a different story. I spent 3 hours redoing figures yesterday (which made them automatic “keepers” for my next years selection). But generally, the lights are holding up quite well which probably means they will give me problems when it really gets busy.

For the next 10 nights the lights will be on from 5:00 to 10:30.

Tuesday – 12 Days Till Christmas

December 12, 2017

Top story is a visit from Dennis Ferrier of the Fox Channel last night. He has been out a couple of times over the years and it was a pleasure to have an opportunity to talk to him about my last year of Sunnyside Lights. The interview will air tonight at 9:00 on the Fox channel.

I also interviewed with Ms. Cheap yesterday and had another interview with a Tennessean reporter who is sending a photographer later in the week (expect a Sunday article). Still waiting to hear from Davis Nolan of Channel 2…his secretary said he would be calling to do an interview Tuesday or Wednesday. I’ve had several reports that the lights have been mentioned on several channels and Tennessee Crossroads was nice enough to re-screen their visit with us. Its shaping up to be a good PR year, which is great since it is my last “big time” show.

This past weekend was interesting. I expected a busy night, but manageable. That is what I got on Friday with lots of buses (14), a few limos (8) and many many cars. Even tho it is was in the low 30’s the driveway was heavily traveled most of the night with walkers. Saturday was a different story…I knew I was in trouble from the get-go! From 5:00 (actually about 4:45) to 8:30 it was like Santa was there and we had just been on TV. Went over 1,000 cars by 8:30 plus 15 buses and 12 limos. Literally over a 100 folks on the driveway for most of the period. Since I was by myself for traffic control I was kept hoping and certainly got my exercise. Finally slowed about 8:45 and was steady from them on.

The Franklin Trolleys had problems with their “second” run scheduling. On Friday night their second run showed up at 9:55 with the lights going out at 10:00…about a 100 folks were on the driveway when the lights “magically” turned off. On Saturday night, they showed up at 10:05 and the lights were out. But Sunday, they got there at 9:30 so lesson learned. Starting next Friday, the lights will not go out until 10:30 thru Christmas eve.

Santa arrives Friday at 5:30 and will be there every night till 9:30 thru Saturday, December 23rd. Guaranteed crowds and lots of traffic…hint-it usually slows down for Santa about 8:30 (especially during the weekdays).

So far, my furthest traveled visitor had been from New Zealand! Only up to about 12 states, so be sure and let me know if you have out of state visitors with you.

Look forward to seeing you all and may the joy of Christmas be with you.

Friday – 15 days till Christmas

December 8, 2017

The past 4 days were busier than I anticipated, especially last night. My intent was to observe but not participate (stand in the street) during the week and save myself for the big weekend. It worked until last night when I glanced out at 7:15 and saw nothing but buses, limos and cars. Hurried down and straightened it out over the next 20 minutes. Must have been over a 100 folks out walking. Ending up staying in the street until 9:00.

This weekend should really be the big kick-off and I expect to be “really” busy meeting and greeting (and directing traffic). Even with the temperature forecast to be in the 20’s there will be lots of folks out walking. The nice thing about being “really busy” is I won’t get cold (of course, a down coat, insulated trousers and hand and toe warmers also help).

There is a nice article at on their homepage titled Legendary Sunnyside Drive. It was just published yesterday. Nice to know I’ve been around long enough to be called a “legend”.

Everyday it seems a few lights flicker out and have to be replaced. Yesterday I rewired two figures and I plan on doing the same today to another two that have problems. The new electronic switches on my neighbors house are working great, although the 5 second wait has expanded to 10 seconds compared to when mine come on.

This month is going by fast and Santa is now only one week away!
Next Friday will kick off 9 days straight of heavy traffic and good cheer. As always I suggest that you visit Santa on Monday thru Thursday as the weekends will be very very big. He will be there from 5:30 to 9:30 each night (Friday, 12/15 thru Saturday, 12/23).

Tuesday – 19 Days Till Christmas

December 5, 2017

Last weekend was much busier that I anticipated, since it was an “extra” weekend compared to last year. Friday night started late, about 6:00, and I anticipated a slow night…I was wrong. It stayed busy right up to 10:00, when the lights went off. Lots of buses, trolleys, a few limos and lots and lots of cars. And the best thing was they wanted to walk!

Saturday and Sunday night both started off right at 5:00 with many cars awaiting. Numerous buses, trolleys and limos showed up both night and everyone wanted to get out and walk the walk. Saturday slowed at about 9:30 and Sunday night about 9:00.

Had dozens and dozens of comments about this being my last year, but they were all positive…especially after mentioning this was my 35th year representing over 1200 nights of lights.

It appears that I am getting some advertising on TV. Several have mentioned seeing my on Tennessee Crossroads on Thanksgiving Day (a rerun of their 2015 visit and one of the best interviews I’ve ever had). Sunnyside Lights have also been mentioned on channels 4 and 5 as a place to go for Christmas Lights. Haven’t seen any newspaper mentions tho. Judging by the turnout I’ve had so far, it would appear that the “fake news” put out by a reporter last year that it was my last year has been replaced by a heavy social media exposure this year.

I suspect that the cold temps forecast for the next 7 days will keep some wannabe walkers in their cars, but I will be out there meeting and greeting this weekend.

Friday – 23 Days Till Christmas

December 1, 2017

This weekend could be the best of the season…weather and traffic wise that is. Almost short sleeve weather for Fri, Sat & Sun and easy parking.
It should be an easy drive up the street too.

So far I’ve only seen one bus and one limo, Which, of course, means that I have more time to talk with my visitors. Snow will also be out this weekend to greet the kids.

I just got in the electronic timer for my neighbors yard so tonight it will magically go on…all at once! Thats five timers I no longer have to be concerned about.

This week I added another 500 lights to the scene…a drop in the bucket, but it all adds up to big numbers.

Reminders: SANTA will be here Friday (Dec 15) thru Sat (Dec 23) from 5:30 to 9:30 each night. The LIGHTS are on from 5:00 till 10:00 every night. All DONATIONS go to the Shrine Children’s Hospitals. There are approximately 35 FIGURES that you can’t see from the street…you must walk up the driveway.

Look forward to see you.

Tuesday – 27 Days Till Christmas

November 28, 2017

As I was counting the days till Christmas, I noticed we have 4 weekends in December before Santa arrives. Thats one more weekend than usual and its fitting for my last mega light show. Santa will also be here for 8 nights, which is more than his normal visit.

Looking back at the weekend I would have to say there were a few less visitors than last year. Of course that made it easy traffic wise and easy to find a place to park…but I still would have liked it to be busier. With my white Samoyed dog Snow, we were down walking the street until about 8:30 Friday & Saturday night and 8:00 on Sunday. As usual, she was a great hit with the kids and adults too. Snow will be able to join me when it is not too busy…probably next weekend and maybe the one after. Once I end up spending all my time directing traffic she will have to watch you from our bay window.

Every night and every morning I have spent time trying to get my neighbors 5 timers to come on at approximately the same time…its not working out. So yesterday, I ordered a new electronic controller for him and hope to have it in by the weekend. Its much more magical when they all come on at the same time!

Speaking of lights I’ve had the normal problems with a few here and there going out. Its kept me active in getting them going again. One of my goals this year was to replace as few as possible new strings to the perimeter and driveway lights, since I will be giving them away at the end of the season. This explains why you might notice more individual bulbs not working (I upped my acceptable burnout rate to 15% of the string before I replaced it). So far I still have a few older lights in reserve to replace burnt out strings, but I’m running out of red.

Having some time on my hands as I was waiting for visitors to show up this weekend I calculated that I have now had my light show for approximately 1,050 nights. Add in about the same for putting them up and I’ve invested over 2100 days to my Christmas Display…and you wonder why I am retiring after this year from my mega light show?