Well it’s amazing how fast time goes by and I can’t believe we’re setting up yet another light show! This year’s show, however, is going to be a little different than previous ones.
I’ll start with updating you on what’s gone on with us over the past few months. In April I got engaged to Jasmine and we will marry in September 2009. In May, I left CTV/CHUM television to expand my carrier horizons by joining Sony Canada. I have since left behind shift work and no longer have to work weekends and holidays. Congratulations to my sister Allysson and husband Erik who had a baby boy this past July (welcome to the world, Winston!). In October Jasmine and myself bought a new house and move in this December.
So, enough of the boring stuff…I’m sure you’re wondering what we’ll be doing for a show this year. We will be creating one, but it will be down-scaled. By this I mean the following:
-NO roof grids
-NO lights on the lawn
-NO LED mega tree
-NO evergreen tree lights
-NO vertical strands on the trees
-NO wall lights
-NO Driveway arches
There will be:
-Animations (snow-men/present machine)
While cutting back on the amount of lights, we will still try and create something new to add to the show. The next question I’m sure your wondering is, WHY? Well, there are a lot of reasons for this.
1) Andrew has moved onto other things and has since lost interest in creating these shows and I can’t blame him, it takes a lot of work and time. He also lives an hour away and can’t be here as often as he once did. So, like the tear down of last season, I won’t be seeing much of him, if at all.
2) The prime reason for down-scaling the show is traffic! Traffic these past few seasons has been hectic and there has been a lot of congestion. I have hired police officers to help assist, but they are costly and one officer per night isn’t enough. I really don’t want to be outside doing traffic control for the month and don’t think it’s fair for my parents, who helped out in the past. Setting up the show is one thing, but dealing with the traffic is just tiring! …believe me, you have no idea!
3) Neighbours: I have one neighbour who does nothing but complain and tries anything to ‘shut us down’. From calling the cops to the by-law department, they’ve tried just about everything. I also have a neighbour who complains about EMF, bright lights, etc. While we try and make things work for everyone, dealing with this is just another headache.
4) As I said above, I bought a house and move in this December. Our closing date is the same day I plan to turn the lights on. This means I will have less time to build a show and can’t be here every night to baby-sit and do traffic control.
5) The town doesn’t properly clear the roads of snow and this is a problem. For traffic to flow properly, we need the snow cleared from curb to curb. The town doesn’t clear about 3’ of snow on each side which narrows the streets, causing traffic problems. What do I do to solve it……get out there with my snowblower and clear the snow. This takes a lot of time!
6) Upating our website, responding to emails, doing interviews for media is a full time job. This alone can take many hours a week. Along with this, the streaming webcam uses a lot of bandwidth. My ISP shut me down last season because I went over my BW limit. I have since changed providers (dropped Rogers) so our streaming webcam should be able to stream all month without problems.
While any one of the above items may not seem like a enough to make one want to quit, you have to remember, this is primarily a one man show (of course, with the help of some friends & volunteers). Along with with my regular job, pulling this off is a huge task! Again, you have no idea how much work is involved, even once the setup is done. This year I’d like to enjoy some of the holiday season and actually take some time for myself to relax and maybe actually do some Christmas shopping, which I never get time to do.
I should also mention that we probably won’t be synching the lights to music this year. If there is no music, people will come and go a lot quicker, meaning the traffic should flow better.
So at this point I may seem a bit negative about the whole thing, but I’m not. I still do this for everyone who loves to come by and enjoy the lights. I know it is very much appreciated, not only from people who visit, but from everyone who can enjoy it through the Internet. I’m also happy that we can help out charities at the same time. I plan to turn the lights on December 5th, 2008. It will be a different show this year, but you won’t be disappointed!
P.S. Feel free to read a post I made in December of last year:
Posted December 2007:Many have asked what our neighbours think of these crazy lights. Well, so far, the response from the neighbourhood has been entirely positive, with the unfortunate and sole exception of one of the newest neighbours. This family has not taken well to the lights and appears to feel that we stage this show to make its life miserable. In each of the last two years, this neighbour has delivered a rambling letter of complaint, listing a litany of issues. While some points may have some validity, the letters are replete with gross inaccuracies and exaggeration. We are not combative by nature so, in spite of the unpleasant and offensive language used in the letters, we have taken steps to try to assuage this neighbour’s concerns. What we have done to date includes:
- shortened the hours of the display, on weeknights;
- shortened the overall length of the display from 5 weeks to 4 weeks;
- shortened the show from 6 minutes;
- provided signs that ask not to block driveways (which work 90% of the time);
- requested visitors keep radio volume down, (via our FM radio broadcast) and not litter;
- provided police traffic patrol in front of their driveway – at a cost of over $300 per night;
- cleaned up what little garbage there is from the street, daily;
- roped off neighbouring yards to foot traffic;
- had friends and family help direct traffic around Xmas..
Our immediate neighbours have been very supportive. This year, we have expanded the display to the property of one of them, at their request. This neighbour’s family not only provide moral support, but also drop by with hot chocolate and beer during those 15 hour days of working in the cold. Other neighbours have offered to help with the display and to direct traffic. In fact, everyone with whom we have contact, (except the neighbour already noted), continues to urge us to put on another display!
With the increased popularity of the show, it has become more stressful and challenging for us to pull off each year. Together with this, the complaining neighbour and the burgeoning traffic, (and lack of community support to assist in directing traffic), we almost had no display this season. However, thanks to support and encouragement from friends, neighbours, local community groups and members of the town council, we decided to go for one more year.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to get York Regional Police to assist with traffic control, but ended up going in circles. The final word is…”They’ll be glad to help out – for $300 per night”. This is not what I was hoping for, so we will be compelled to fund this from collected donations, which reduces the amount available for the charities. Last season we spent close to $3000 to have one police officer assist us in directing traffic, for a period of 8 nights. Until then, 100% of the collected donation money went to local charities. However, we were forced to make a decision to either shut down the display, or withdraw money from the collected donations to pay for nightly traffic control. As I did last year, I have urged our town councilor to press for police support with the traffic, but again have been unable to reach satisfactory conclusion, although she is otherwise very supportive of our efforts. I must also give thanks to the police department for making regular, nightly visits, making sure everything is ok.
This year will be a decision maker as to whether the display will continue at 4 Rosea in future years. We can no longer do this alone and need help from the community to make it work. I have put a request out to local high schools, looking for volunteers to help keep traffic flowing. High school students require a certain amount of volunteer work in order to graduate and I have confirmed with Thornlea Secondary School that we can grant these hours to any students wishing to partake. Our biggest problem is the sheer volume of traffic in such a short period of time. Wait times last season were up to 45 minutes, around Christmas Eve.
We thank everyone who has supported us, including those who have helped setup, to everyone who has emailed, thanking us for making their holiday season brighter and showing their appreciation for the work involved. A very special thanks to my parents who allow us to do this and store tons (literally) of lights, extension cords, controllers, etc. at their home.
Our display demands an incredible work effort and I know that most appreciate the result. To those who have offhandedly commented that we “have too much time on our hands”, let me just say that my brother and I have 40 hour work-week “real” jobs and spend all our spare time in November/December/January making this work. We take vacation days off work, sacrifice time-out with friends and put a complete hold on social life. All personal projects are put in abeyance, including even Christmas shopping.
We owe thanks to the sponsors who have supported us and have helped make the show what it is. It’s amazing how expensive this can become and, without their assistance, we would not be able to afford a display of this magnitude.
This season, the weather has given us everything from rain to snow to high winds, etc. We’ve been working in sub zero temperatures with wind chills down to -18 degrees and snow almost 6 inches deep. It’s been a battle getting the roof lights in place and working, as well as the grass grids. We had to snow-blow snow off the grass and drill holes in the ground to implant over 2,000 light stakes (the ground was frozen). It has been challenging, but we made it work!
The lights went on December 8th, and the new sequence was launched a week later. We cannot program before the lights are assembled, because we never know how many lights we’ll be able to get in place. At least we know that our efforts will bring joy and happiness, to (almost!) everyone. We wish everyone Happy Holidays!