By Marc Gave | firstname.lastname@example.org
This holiday season, you don’t have to go far from home to see – and hear – a spectacular light show. Right here in Oakland Park, Seth Jones and Alex Plaza stage a nightly extravaganza known as the JP Christmas Lights at their home on the corner of 42nd Street and 19th Terrace.
A Passion, A Hobby
Seth, who makes his living at a commercial real estate firm, and Alex put on “a very big show” show simply for their own enjoyment and that of their neighbors and friends. Seth says, “I’ve been a fan of computerized light shows for years. Around 2005 a video came out of a light show very similar to the one I now have. Every year since then, I’d go on the Internet and look for more videos of Christmas light displays”.
Starting in 2013, when he and Alex got together, they began doing their own light show, modest at first. Two years later, they fully animated it. Due to moving and other life events, they held the show in alternating years. Two years ago, they bought their current house, and they look forward to making the lights an annual tradition. “There’s even an homage to that first 2005 display”, Seth continues. “We have that same song in our show, and I designed the programming of our show to resemble the choreography of the lights from back then”.
It Doesn’t Just Happen
You might ask what goes into the planning of a light show of this magnitude. Seth says: “Next year’s show starts now. We look at what we have, what we want to change and add. We’re definitely thinking more strobe lights and spiral trees. We’ll need more wire. We start by preordering from vendors in January so we can get cheaper prices. Then we’ll take spring off and not think about the lights. But by early summer, we’ll start building. Then we’ll do the computer programming to fit the expanded design. I prefer to do most of my own programming, instead of buying sequences programmed by other people. But there’s a fairly thriving community of hobbyists who do it collaboratively, and some programs can be shared around. I’m just more particular about the quality”.
Seth continues: “We can spend two hours a night, three times a week just to get a minute of song synchronized to a particular sequence of lights. Multiply that by the number and length of songs, and you get an idea how much time it takes to program the entire display—and that’s before you even set up any of the lights in the yard!”
Putting It All Together
Seth and Alex start the actual assembly of the display in October. It is modular, and most of it breaks down, nests, and even stores in bins in the garage. Assembling the whole is a matter of going outside and putting it together again. Of course, any additions have to be carefully factored in.
Seth encourages people to come by as much as they like. He remembers fondly when growing up, his parents would drive him around to see neighbors’ lights. He loves to be able to provide that for other people.
The program is set automatically to begin at sunset and goes until at least 10:00 PM every night unless it is raining. There are outdoor speakers playing the music in the yard for people walking on the sidewalk, but if they’d rather watch from the comfort of their car, they can tune the car radio to 101.1 and listen to the music as the lights dance along.
If you know of a light display that all can enjoy, please share its location with us in the comments. Otherwise Let There Be Light! And enjoy the show!
Happy Holidays to all!
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About the AuthorPhiladelphia native Marc Gave spent most of his postcollege life in the New York area, where he worked in publishing as an editor, writer, manager, and entrepreneur, largely in the areas of children’s trade books and educational books and media. Marc has been living in South Florida since 2011, where he has been involved with nonprofit organizations, currently as the board president of Broward Art Guild. He has recently reignited his writing career and is also an emerging mixed-media artist. He and his partner, Jeff, love visiting with Marc’s two grown children, a son who lives in Los Angeles and a daughter who lives in New York.
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