Senior spreads Christmas cheer with 50,000 Christmas lights

By Isabella Daley

Some people start planning their Christmas decorations in the middle of October, some start December 1, and some wait until a week before Christmas.  Senior William Granlund spent almost one year preparing his Christmas decorations.

Granlund programmed about 250 strands of LED lights to display a Christmas lights show at his house, and it took him months to complete the project.  “I started programming after Christmas last year,” Granlund said.

His lights display is synchronized to music played on the radio frequency 97.5, which he custom created for the Christmas lights show.  He said he controls the signals that station transmits so he can play the songs that accompany the display.  “It’s my own radio station basically,” Granlund said.  He does not play the music from frequency 97.5 out loud at his house because people who stop to watch the lights show in their cars can play the music through their own radios without disrupting the neighborhood.

The Christmas lights display attracts 50 to 60 cars on the road on weekend nights, and each show lasts for 30 minutes.  The lights and music play in a loop from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weeknights and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekend nights.  Granlund extended the hours of the shows on the weekends because visitors would show up right at the end of the 10 p.m. show just to see the lights stop moving at 10:30 pm.

While Granlund’s lights display is free to anyone who happens to drive past his house, it cost him a significant amount of money to create.  It cost between $2000 and $3000 to buy 10 computer-controlled relay boxes to run the show, and each of the 250 strands of lights cost between $10 and $20.

Making the lights display also cost Granlund time.  It required about 10 hours of programming to coordinate the movement of the lights for each song of the half hour show, and it took three weeks to set the lights up around his house and yard.  “Programming is the hardest part, but setting up is the best part because I get to see it all come together,” Granlund said.

Granlund has always helped decorate his house with lights for Halloween and for Christmas, but this is the first year he has synchronized his show to music.  He added more lights than before, totaling over 50,000 individual LED lights.  The electricity bill was the only part of the show that remained constant this year, as Granlund mentioned that “[the lights] take so little energy that I can run it all out of one outlet.”

Even with an increase in the complexity of the lights display, Granlund has never received any complaints from his neighbors.  “Nobody has ever said anything [negative] about it,” Granlund said.  He mentioned that he has a slight rivalry with “the guy down the street” who also works diligently on setting up a Christmas lights display, but their relations are nothing but friendly.

After nearly a year of his hard work, Granlund said he is happy with the way his lights show has come together.  “I basically spend the whole year just seeing it on a computer screen, but when I set it up, I get to see it all come to life.”

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The Christmas lights display at senior William Granlund’s house plays to music on the radio frequency 97.5, a station that he custom created for the display.  Granlund spent about 10 hours programming the light sequences and changes to each of the songs that plays during the half hour lights show.

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