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Somerset teen’s light display sure to amaze

Conner Simon’s Christmas light display is no simple, ordinary arrangement. It was a year in the making.

Simon, a 14-year-old Somerset High School freshman, decorated his family’s home in the Town of Star Prairie with more than 10,000 Christmas lights this season and programmed them to five hours of holiday music.

Simon said he has always had a fascination with electricity. When his cousin moved to Chicago two years ago, he visited him there and saw a large light show that someone had put together. He was inspired to do the same.

“Last year, I put up a few lights, but this is way bigger than the year before,” Simon said.

Simon began buying lights in January. 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.

“He purchased all of the 10,000 lights and blow molds at garage sales all summer long,” Simon’s mother Laurie said. “He started working last January and was programming by July.”

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.

“It takes four hours of programming per song,” Simon said. “I have 32 songs that play in five hours, so that’s a lot of programming. But next year will be way bigger.”

After deciding the focal points of his display, Simon worked to program the lights to flash in time with the music.

“If you tune your radio to 88.0 or 88.1 FM you will hear the music the lights are synced to,” Laurie Simon said. “Yes, he has five hours of music programmed so you shouldn’t see a song repeat for the entire evening.”

Simon had to apply for a broadcast license for the month of December. It was included in the cost of his radio transmitter, he said. The license was about $120.

Simon, who envisions a career in computer programming, said his parents are supportive and “think it’s pretty cool -- until they get the electric bill.”

“I think the electric bill is $60 or $70 more than usual,” Simon said.

Next year Simon wants to upgrade by adding lyrics to the music and more lights.

The focal points of the display are the outline of the house and “mega tree,” which has 1,000 lights, Simon said.

“We get about eight cars a night,” Simon said. “But we don’t live on a busy street. My favorite part is seeing people’s reaction and it’s fun to do.”

The display will be up until Jan. 1 and runs 5 to 10 p.m. at 2014 100th St., Somerset.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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