Monday, December 26, 2005

A high-tech holiday

After a too-big dinner yesterday, we went out looking at lights. We have plenty of people around here who go overboard. Less than a mile from my home is an entire street that was filled with cars and people who were there to see the lights. They must have one of just about every wooden, inflatable, and light-up holiday decoration available, plus a few homemade ones, a pandemonium of lights and creatures.

Last night, though, we went to a different part of town and saw the most over-the-top holiday display I've ever seen at a private residence. Two neighbors, who shared a large lawn between their houses, had clearly gotten together for the display. Each of five large trees in the yard sported lights, plus they had lights on the eaves and in all the bushes and shrubs, and lights spiraling up two city lightposts on either side. They had a light-up deer on the roof and one on the lawn, but none of the huge inflatable things. It was mostly just lights.

In the middle, they had a box. The box had a scrolling LED display, and instructions to tune your radio to an FM station. They had a microtransmitter playing Christmas songs. (The signal vanished even a block away.) All the lights in the yard were timed with the music, and it must have been choreographed in advance because exactly the right ones were going at the right times. They must have had them on dozens of different circuits.

The scrolling LED display offered additional information. It said to watch for the laser in Rudolph's nose, which indeed there was. It also requested donations of canned foods or money for a local food bank, which the owners of the display planned to match. So far, it said, they had collected 6 barrels of food plus $20,000.

We stood in the drizzle watching the spectacle for easily thirty minutes before putting our contribution in the slot and heading home.


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