Saturday – 28 days till Christmas

November 26, 2016

The lights went on Thursday night…pretty much without a hitch. Normally I have 10 or 12 cars awaiting for the big moment, but this year there was only one. Fortunately, it was shortly followed (right up till 9:30) by a continuous line of cars with at least a couple of hundred walkers. The weather was perfect and I had a great time talking with both “long time regulars” and first timers. A list of the states represented will be at the end of this post.

Friday night started off quiet too, but soon turned into a steady stream of visitors, with at least half of them “taking the walk”. Even had my first limo of the year (of course it was the owner taking family out for the evening). The weather was a bit cooler, but still very pleasant.

My biggest problem so far has been my light controller wearing out. It sends out a signal thru my electrical lines to turn on the lights and it appears that signal has weakened over the years (only had it for about 20 years). The result is having to bypass the switches on a number of the cords to get them to come on. That means all my lights do not come on at exactly the same time (it depends how quickly I move between the failed switches) It seems about 5 of the 12 circuits are affected…but they are spread around the house. I have ordered a new one.

Weather looks good for Saturday and Sunday night, so I expect good turn-outs. The first couple of weeks are really the best times to visit, since there are no long waits to come up the streets. Rain is actually in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday nights…probably another less than tenth of an inch!

The lights are on from 5:00 till 10:00 until Santa arrives on Friday, December 16th, when they stay on till 10:30.

States represented so far…AZ. NM, CA, TX, MO, SD, AL, GA, NC, KY, MS & IL. Not bad for the first 2 days, but than Thanksgiving always see a good number of out of town visitors.

Tuesday – 2 Days Till Light-off

November 22, 2016

Its getting close, but I’m ready. Yes, its 99% complete! All that is left is to put out the cones, the sign at the bottom of the street and set the timers.
The last 10 days have been exciting (and tiring). The Sunday before last my nephew and crew arrived and we got out all the figures on the two main houses. While his crew put out the figures, my brother and I actually got them all wired in…same day, thats a first.
During the week, my brother and I were able to put out all the figures in the 6 neighbor’s yards, wire them up and check them out. As expected, the hard ground made pounding in stakes a challenge. Actually lost about 20 stakes (at about $4 each) when they bent as they went in. We elected not to put in the long green line in front of all the houses to save us from pounding in another 50 stakes. I also decided to not put in the lanterns at each driveway since they take really big stakes. As a result of decreasing the number of stakes (long green line), my light count went down about 5,000 lights.
By Saturday morning we were up to 95% complete, so we took Saturday off. Finished up Sunday with all the little items and the only thing remaining for Monday was balancing the circuits and putting lights on the neighbors’ house (he was having his trim painted and the guy didn’t finish till Sunday evening).
Today is a paperwork day at the shop as I am way behind. I hope to plug the cables into the timers this afternoon and try to get all the lights to agree to come on at 5:00. Wednesday evening I’ll try again and hopefully on Thanksgiving they will all come on at about the same time…5:00.
I’ve checked all the figures and lights 3 times now (and repaired as necessary each time). I’m crossing my fingers that they will all work!.
See you on Thanksgiving!

Friday – 13 days till light off for the 2016 Season

November 11, 2016

I’ve been negligent in keeping you updated on my progress toward our Thanksgiving Day light-off. Sorry about that.

As of this morning all of the perimeter, driveway and main house lights have been put up. As have the perimeter and driveway lights on my neighbors house. I have the back garage and some fence lights to finish and the figures will start going out. I anticipate that by Sunday evening all of the figures will be out on the two main houses and I will spend the next couple of days running the electricity (and checking the loads on each circuit).
Following the completion of the two main houses, I will embark on decorating the yards of the other 6 houses and plan to have that complete by the Sunday before Thanksgiving. That will give me a couple of days to fine tune.

Last Sunday I had my nephew show up with family in tow. With their help I got up the Christmas entrance sign, brought down Santa’s house, erected the 8 arches and put up about about 3/4 of the driveway lights…what a day!

My brother arrived on Wednesday for a 2 week stay and we started off yesterday running. Finished the entrance, gazebo and the main house lights in one day. Today we will finish the garage and fence as noted above and start moving out the figures to their respective areas. My nephew and crew will be back on Sunday to help put the figures up.

I’ve had two problems in getting my lights out this year. The first is the need to train a couple of delivery drivers at my flower shop who just started this week. This has cost me 3 working days this week and probably 2 more next week. The second problem has been the drought…boy the ground is hard! I’ve been heavily watering my yard for the last 2 weeks and it hasn’t been too bad for pounding in stakes. But the neighbors yard has been a different story! Every figure has at least one stake to go in the ground, so that is several hundred stakes to go!

I actually expect to have more figures out this year than any past year…which is fitting, since it will be my last year of doing all 8 houses.

Till next weekend.

Welcome to the 2016 Christmas Lights

October 6, 2016

Its that time of year again…time to get ready for our 34th Annual Christmas Light Spectacular! As always, the light show will begin on Thanksgiving Day and end on New Years. Santa has already confirmed that he will be present every evening during Christmas week (Friday, December 17th thru Friday, December 23rd).

I’ve been working on the 400 figures since the beginning of September and am happy to report that I have gone thru all of them. I replaced about 3,000 lights and re-taped around 15,000 lights. This is actually a significant improvement over previous years, so I’m not complaining.

For those of you who do not know, each light on the figures (about 65,000-70,000 total) is taped on with strapping tape and the tape is good for approximately 4 years. I noticed, when working on the figures, that some of the lights are over 15 years old…pretty good life-time for the mini-bulbs (especially when compared to the newer LED lights which do not seem to last more than 2 seasons!).

I will start working on putting up the actual display the first week in November. 23 days to put out about 135,000 lights and about 400 figures! As the work progresses, I will keep you updated on my progress on at least a weekly basis during November.

As always, there will be changes in the display and its up to you to discover them.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
All good things must come to an end. This is my 34th year of putting on the light production and I’m not getting any younger. This is the last year I will be doing 8 houses. Next year it will be only the 2 main houses (which account for about 70% of the lights and figures anyway). It will also be the last year (my 35th) of my mega light display.

The Wrap for Christmas 2015

January 8, 2016

Everything is down! 6 days is a new record!

We also set a new record for donations to the Shrine Hospitals for Children…$ 8,585.00!!! Wow. A big thanks to all the generous folks in Middle Tennessee.

Take down started with a bang. On New Years Day my nephew showed up with his daughter, her husband and teenage daughter to help take down the display. In 5 hours all of the figures from all nine houses were put away! This normally takes me about 5 days, as I do it in sections. Great weather (except for one cold day) and no rain allowed me to complete the take down in 6 days.

Planning for 2016 has already begun and I have already designed my first new figure. I have about 20,000 brand new lights for replacements.

Have a safe and happy 2016 and I’ll be back blogging in October.

God Bless,

Bill

Sunday – 4 Days Till Take-down

December 27, 2015

Going into the final days before it all comes down. Its been a great run, with lots of visitors and donations to the Shrine Hospitals for Children.
The lead up to Christmas night was interesting. Monday was rainy and relatively low on the visitor count. Tuesday blew out the socks with the busiest night to date and record donations. Santa gave out over 500 candy canes!

Wednesday started slow (thanks to the mayor asking everyone to stay at home), but wasn’t bad until 8:00 when the sirens went off. At that time we had 3 limos, a bus and about a dozen cars (over 100 folks out walking)…by 8:10 they were all gone. For the next 40 minutes my two traffic assistants and Santa just sat around waiting…no rain, no wind. Finally picked up about 9:00, but never got busy. Too bad, since it was Santa’s last night.

Christmas Eve – as expected the biggest night of the season. From 5:00 to 10:15 I never sat down. The wait was never less than 10 minutes to come up the street and only exceeded 20 minutes for a brief time. I counted 1,650 cars by 10:00. Had a couple of buses and about 10 limos sprinkled in. Lots and lots of folks out walking. The weather was absolutely perfect.  At 10:10, I still couldn’t see the end of the line and I was beginning to worry that it would continue past 10:30 when the lights went out.  But it magically came to an end with only 3 cars left when they went off.

Both Friday and Saturday night were busy and the weather was great (got 3 inches of rain early Friday morning, so everything was wet and the creek was flowing. I had a lot of interesting conversations with visiting folks…lots of out of town folks. Guess its time to list the states and countries again:
AZ, AL, CO, KY, WISC, IL, GA, FL, NE, OH, MA, IN, CA, NV, MI, MD, WV, SC, TX, AR, MO, ME, DC, MI, ID, KS, NV, HAWAII, ALASKA, OH, NC, WASH, NH, NY & WV.

IRELAND, ITALY, WALES, SCOTLAND, GERMANY, RUSSIA, JAPAN, MEXICO, S. AFRICA, NEW ZEALAND, CANADA, GUATEMALA, CHINA, INDIA & BRAZIL.

Probably missed several.

New Year’s Eve is the last night. Starting Friday morning I will begin take-down…working my way up the street. Goal is by the end of the weekend to have 7 yards cleared and my driveway arches down. Estimate it will take 12 days to put everything away.

And, of course, I’m already planning out 2016 in my mind.

I’ll let you know when everything is put away.

Santa’s Last Night – 2 Days Till Christmas

December 23, 2015

Santa’s 2015 run comes to an end tonight and boy has he been busy! Since he came to our house on Friday he has given out close to 2100 candy canes and that is a lot of kids! Friday, Saturday and Sunday were very busy with lines awaiting him. Monday was a bummer with constant light rain which cut the visitor count in half. Last night was amazing! Traffic matched Saturday nights rush, but the walkers really came out. Santa gave out more than 500 candy canes and my extra traffic help were busy for 4 1/2 hours straight. It turned out to be my biggest donation night ever (to the Shrine Children’s Hospital,of course).
Santa has never been better and is having a really great time (just ask anyone who has sat on his lap)! Hasn’t passed his record of 9 folks in his little house at one time, but there has been lots of 8’s.
Tonight has a forecast of moderate rain and maybe some thunderstorms…it should be interesting. Santa is warm (maybe too warn in these unusual temperatures) and dry, but its a different story for us traffic mavens.
Last night we had reps from Guatemala, China and that hard to get Hawaii. We are up to about 29 states and 15 countries, but I will update this weekend.
I have had several conversations with other folks like me who have lost their sons…talking about them is good for all of us. We did have a visitor last night from out of state who was visiting his children for the last time since he has terminal cancer. He has decided to not visit the doctors anymore and get as much out of life (especially his kids) as he can.
There are lots of heart warming stories which come out of my celebration of my son’s life and make all the effort worth it.

Santa suggested that next year I add to my web site a link to the Shrine donation page…wish I had thought of that!
Have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday – Dec 14th – 11 Days till Christmas

December 14, 2015

Only one more weekend to go before Christmas and 5 days till Santa arrives for his 6 night visit. Of course, the final weekend is huge, as are the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Santa will be there from 5:30 to 9:30 starting on Friday and going through Wednesday night (wonder how many will ask me where he is on Christmas Eve this year?).
This last weekend’s moderate temps (in the 60’s) sure brought out the crowd…and it didn’t hurt that Tennessee Crossroads had me on again Sunday morning! Friday started off slow for the first 45 minutes, but finished up strong right up to 10:00. Both Saturday and Sunday were busy from the get go, with Saturday staying that way till 10:00 and Sunday slowing after 8:30. Lots of cars, lots of buses/trolleys and lots of limos. It was very steady with maximum waits up the street usually under 10 minutes. Surprising number of first time visitors.
Added several states to my list, including Idaho and Montana…two of my hardest to get (still waiting for the Dakotas, Alaska & Hawaii on the difficult list). Also added to my country list Ireland, Wales, Scotland & Italy.
Starting Friday night my turn-off time will change to 10:30, through Christmas Eve. You can also expect a slow-go up the street during that period…20+ minutes.
I had one of the local TV stations call me and ask to do an interview this week for TV. I had to turn them down as it is way too close to my super busy week now.
Snow (my samoyed dog) will be out with me the next 4 nights, but not during Santa’s visit…its just too busy to keep my eye on her.
Look forward to see you!!

Wednesday, December 9 – 16 Days Till Christmas

December 9, 2015

Last weekend was loads of fun. Friday eve started off a little slow…as in no cars at 5:00! But about 5:40 they started coming and just didn’t stop until about 9:30. It was on the cold side, but we had plenty of walkers. Trolleys came twice and we had 5 other buses plus about 6 limos. Made for a fun evening.
Saturday went gang busters from the start with 6 cars awaiting light off. Trolleys, buses and limos were plentiful and boy did the cars come. Never hit more than 8 coming up the street at one time and no traffic problems parking the buses, limos and trolleys…so everything flowed very smoothly. Went right up to 10:00.

Sunday was also very good, but it died down about 9:00 (school next day of course). Good mix of vehicles and everything went very smoothly.

Monday and Tuesday were relatively warm and had a good flow of cars, with lots of walkers. Of course, it was significantly slower than the weekend. Couple of Gray Line buses and a few limos each night.

Countries accounted for: Ireland, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Haiti (at least I had some Haitian money in the box!), Canada & Japan. Russia & South Africa were big surprises.

States account for: NC, SC, VA, GA, AL, LA, TX, NM, OK, FL, CA, AR, IL, OH, IN, NV, MA, NV, ID & WV. My record for states in one year is 48 (I was missing ID & ND). Captured most of the states over Thanksgiving weekend and expect the next big surge during Christmas vacation.

Looking for several warm nights, with a chance of rain on Sunday. It should be a good week. Hours are 5:00 to 10:00 until Friday, December 18th when they go till 10:30 and Santa arrives!
Donations are running ahead of last year!

Wednesday – 23 Days Till Christmas

December 2, 2015

Opening night (Thanksgiving) had a very nice turnout of visitors. Although there were only 9 cars awaiting (usually around a dozen), the flow was constant right up till 9:30. Only had 3 figures that needed fixing the next day.

Friday was a very busy night and I was greeting from 5:00 to 10:00. The nice thing about the first weekend is no limos, buss’s, etc…which meant I could spend all my time talking with our visitors. Another 3 figures needed some work the next day.
By the end of the first two days, I already had 14 states represented.

Saturday was plagued with off and on rain and the number of walkers was down, but not the traffic flow. We did have our first limo show up around 9:30.

Sunday, Monday & Tuesday were washouts! Very few braved the rain and walked. Consequently, donations to the Shrine Children’s Hospitals were almost non-existent (fortunately Thursday and Friday night were way up over last year). Tuesday night also found our first buses, with two church buses showing up. Had about two figures each day that needed work.  Total rainfall for the 3 days was 4.2 inches!  Hopefully, the ground were a lot of the cars park will have hardened up a little bit by Friday night.

This weekend should be very busy and I will have a friend helping with the traffic flow both Friday & Saturday night. It should kick off the limo and bus parade.

On the next post I will list the states and countries represented…Russia & South Africa have already checked in (two of my hardest to get).