Light -off has happened.

November 24, 2017

As scheduled, the lights went on magically (well electronically) at 5:00 Thanksgiving Day. As usual, had a number of cars waiting and it was busy for the first hour and a half. The next couple of hours had spurts, but by 8:30 it had pretty much went to a trickle.
Biggest problem was that my neighbors electronic system failed and I had to put manual timers on each of his five circuits. Since they are not exact there is about a 5 minutes period for all of them to come on, but I’m working on it.
Had the expected failure of some light strings (even tho I had “checked them twice”). Fixed a few and will catch the rest tonight (when it will be warmer than last night).
Since that unknown reported suggested that last year was my LAST year, I expect the count might be slightly down this year. But than, maybe we will get some TV coverage which really pumps it up. Perhaps even Channel 5 might show up for the first time since there is no longer the Nashville Light Competition which they sponsored.
Tonight and Saturday are historically (yes I keep records) a pretty big nights, so I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of folks.

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Sunday – 4 Days till Light-Off

November 19, 2017

I’,m ready! Everything is out, wired and checked. My goal was to complete it before the weather turned cold (and stormy) and I finished it on Friday afternoon. Of course, I never consider it finished until Christmas Day as I always find something to add…even in my LAST YEAR!
During the next 3 nights I will be checking sections to make sure they come on as advertised and nothing has gone out since I wired them in. But I will be careful not to turn them all on at once…that would ruin it for any lucky individuals driving by. Thanksgiving Day at 5:00 is the big moment!
I had two of my neighbors request that I put very specific figures in their yards and I have done so. Not many, but enough to make a scene.
Looking forward to great Christmas!

Tuesday – 9 Days till Light-Off

November 14, 2017

The plan for the weekend worked. All the figures are now out and the lawns are overflowing. With the elimination of the other 6 houses I ended up with a lot of extra figures for the main lawns (even tho I gave away about 70 figures last year). I added about 20 to the the neighbors yard and at least 30 to mine. This continues the tradition of “BJ” always getting more lights (“Dad, we need more lights”).

This week I will be running the electrical. With all the additional figures it could be a challenge finding enough power. I finished the center area (between the 2 driveways) and only had 8 extra amps left over for what I had dedicated to that area. The big lawn is on tap for today, than comes the neighbors lawn.

I’ve heard from Santa!!! He will be here for 9 nights starting on Friday, December 15th.

The lights will go on Thanksgiving Day at 5:00 and continue every night from 5:00 to 10:00 thru New Years Day.

Thursday – 14 Days Till Light-Off

November 9, 2017

Its all coming together at a very nice pace. I’m down to my last few thousand lights and getting ready to bring the figures out. The only lights left to go are on the houses (and I’ve already done the eves).
Spent yesterday cleaning up after the 5 inch rainfall and chopping up leaves.  Today will be devoted to finishing off the lights on the front of the house.
So far I have thrown away approximately 40 light strings (4,000 lights?) that I could not fix or had too many bulbs out (15% of bulbs out is my max in a string). The little specialty nick knacks I have collected over the years (snowflakes, stars, eve hangers, etc) took another big hit this year. I’ve just about run out of them which is another reason this is my last year. For example, I bought 15 – four foot sparkling snowflakes about 15 years ago and I am now down to one (you just can’t fix them).
Tomorrow I will do my final mowing on the lawn (yes it really needs it) and clean off the leaves (again). Saturday and Sunday I will bring out all the figures (I have my nephew and crew coming on Sunday to help). Some of the figures will be in their same places (think skiers), but there will be many additions and changes to the scenes. The challenge to find a place for my sea serpent ended up with a rather interesting result (one of my “walker specials”).
Next week will be devoted to getting them all wired in. I will also be doing all the little miscellaneous things that I do at the end.
Still waiting to hear from Santa, guess I better send him another email.
No more t-shirts and shorts, winter temps are finally here.

2017 Season Has Arrived

November 3, 2017

Its finally here…my 35th and final season for Sunny Side Lights.  I really appreciate all my neighbors for helping me host the annual event (and putting up with the all the traffic).

As I mentioned at the close of the 2016 season, this year will be my last “over the top” Christmas light display. Instead of 8 houses I am going back to the original two for my final show. But this will not result in a big decrease in the number of lights. The other 6 houses accounted for about 30,000 lights and 80 figures which leaves me with ONLY 100,000 lights and about 275 figures…not exactly a “small” production. Of course, I won’t have the exact number until I’m finished putting them out.

I started working on this years figures the beginning of September and finished them in October. I replaced 2,240 lights and re tapped 10,480 lights (every light on the figures is taped on and the tape usually last 3-4 years). That is a significant decrease over previous years (of course I had 80 less figures). So far, on running light strings, I’ve thrown away about 3,000 lights…but I still have a long ways to go.

Speaking of light strings, yesterday was a banner day…I put out over 17,000 lights. That entailed doing all the perimeter lights and half of the neighbors driveway. Once the rain is thru today I’ll work on the rest of the driveways. Last Tuesday I talked my son-in-law into helping me put up the Merry Christmas arch over the entrance, moving Santa’s house down to the entrance and putting up the arches on my driveway.

Speaking of help, after coming for the last 5 years, my brother will not be able to come this year as he is having medical problems. I sure will miss him! I will have my nephew and his clan come out to help put up the figures in about a week.

Haven’t heard from Santa yet, but I expect him the week before Christmas. I’ll let you know the exact dates as soon as he returns my calls (I think he is still upset that this is my last year).  I know that Snow (my Samoyed dog) is really looking forward to greeting all the kids.

As always, the lights will turn on Thanksgiving Day and continue thru New Year’s Day. The hours are 5:00 to 10:00.

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.