Crazy for Christmas: Teen's holiday display boasts 50,000 lights set to music
If you thought 10,000 Christmas lights synced to Christmas music was impressive last year, you haven’t seen anything yet.
This year, Town of Star Prairie teen Conner Simon has expanded his light and music show to include 50,000 Christmas lights, with a half-hour show on the odd numbered days of the week, and another half-hour show for even numbered days of the week.
The show on the odd numbered days features seven songs, while the even numbered days’ show highlights nine musical selections. Songs include traditional and contemporary Christmas arrangements.
Simon estimated each minute of the half-hour shows took him between 10 and 15 hours of programming to complete. This means each song contains 50 to 80 hours of programming.
“If we lived in town, people would notice it more and come out to see it more,” Conner’s mother Laurie Simon said. “He puts so much work into it.”
Last year, Conner, who his mother describes as shy, was tickled pink when an article in the News was published, Laurie said. She said after the article was published, the number of cars per night that came to see the display grew from about four to over 30.
Why does Conner put so much work into his annual light display?
“Because of the happiness and joy that comes out of it,” Conner said. “This year I added arches and two more mega trees.”
During an interview last year with the News, Simon said he has always had a fascination with electrical technology, computer programs, and Christmas lights and decorations. When his cousin moved to Chicago three years ago, he visited him there and saw the Larsen Light Show in Elburn, Ill., which inspired him to configure his own light display.
According to Conner’s website, crazyfourchristmas.weebly.com, he spent months researching controllers, selecting songs, programming lights to musical sequences and scouring garage sales for lights and equipment.
Last year’s show ran off two GE controllers. This year, he is using a new Light-O-Rama brand software package, two more controllers, over one mile of extension cords and an estimated 50,000 lights.
In January 2013, Conner began stockpiling supplies for his light show. He spent $1,000 of his own money on lights, an FM transmitter, music programming software and extension cords. He bought his materials from garage sales, Walmart and Amazon, Simon said.
For last year’s show, Simon said he began by drawing out where he wanted to place all the decorations and lights. Then he made a model on his computer. Next, he picked the songs he wanted to program.
After deciding the focal points of his display, Simon worked to program the lights to flash in time with the music. While this is his second year of programming, it hasn’t gone without almost insurmountable challenges.
“In August, his computer crashed,” Laurie said. “He lost just about everything, or at least about half. He came upstairs and said ‘I don’t think there’s going to be a show this year. I can’t possibly get all this done again.’”
But with loads of determination and hard work, the 15-year-old Somerset High School sophomore beat the odds, and his light show went on.
“It’s been crunch time the last week,” Conner said on Tuesday, Dec. 9. “I’ve been up until 2 a.m. almost every night and up at 7 a.m.”
Another near catastrophe hit on Sunday, Dec. 7, Laurie said. She had mentioned to Conner that maybe more lights needed to be on at once to make the show more impressive. Conner modified some of the songs to show more lights at once. While testing the lights, a GFI outlet blew and none of the outlets in their basement worked, Conner said. After checking the breakers and realizing none of them had blown, he realized it had to be the outlet, which sure enough was blackened. He was forced to run around the back of the house to plug in there with extension cords. And again, the show will go on.
Go to newrichmond-news.com to see a video of Simon’s display in action.
The display will be up until Jan. 1 and runs five to 10 p.m. at 2014 100th St., Somerset. Tune your radios to 88.1 FM and be amazed by the creativity and determination of this talented young man.
For more information on how the light display works, visit crazyfourchristmas.weebly.com.