Our snowmen, announcer Jack with news correspondent Crystal, host a one hour radio program daily 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. during the week and until midnight on the weekends, longer on the holidays which repeats throughout the night playing through over 20 songs. Hear the music on our outdoor speakers or tune your radio to 89.9 to hear the program from your car as you watch the lights synchronized to the music.
We have never had to turn off the display due to weather. We have had only one day when the computer decided to quit. We had to replace the radio transmitter in 2014, unfortunately until it was replaced the sound was not as clear as we would want. Enjoy the show.
As you approach from the display, most people go west on Fabian Rd and take a right onto Hughes Rd entering to the Mill Creek Subdivision on Herrington; the display is only one block in so be careful not to block traffic at this entrance or the nearby intersections. The display is located on a double corner lot on Herrington Rd so there is great viewing at several spots.
If you take any photos or videos of our display, please consider sharing them with us. Between some tracks, all of the lights will stay on to better allow for photographs. Here are a few quick tips:
Bruce loves to engineer and work on new ideas. Joyce has to try to organize the plans and try to keep things on track. It takes over a month to decorate the outside of the house. The decorations are all stored off-site. Our son-in-law helps tremendously. We try to change or add to the display every year. After the first year Joyce took over the programing for the songs and lighting layout. She organized it on in conjunction with her landscape design. When adding to the landscape the all seasons are considered Spring through Christmas.
The display was started in 2010 with a small synchronized display in the front yard with only 16 channels. That didn't give us enough creativity to work. The next year the display grew to 640 channels on the live trees and arches. We didn't have a lot of time for programming by the time all of the parts arrived the week before Thanksgiving and the lights were up. We would try to program late at night but then felt bad if someone stopped to hear a song and we were only playing a 30 second section in order to work on the programming. The software allows me to bring in the song and program a number of different effects.
The songs are usually broken up into .10-second increments. Every item in the display then has to be manually programed, in each 10th of second increment. That's 640 channels have to be programed to produce what you're seeing outside my house. A typical 3 minute song requires a minimum of about 100,000 programming steps and that's only if the desired effect is achieved. If it's not it has to be redone. Adding a sequence, you have to making sure it is on beat, using sparkles, shimmers, color combinations, creating crescendos and runs in-sync with the music. It's not uncommon for me to have 200,000 steps in each song. That's why it takes about 6 hours of programming per minute of music. Some songs take longer.
Reprogramming for the next year starts in January while changes are fresh in our minds. While basic programming is available for some songs; they still need to be modified for our landscape design and number of channels. Typically synchronized displays are only viewed from the front, but we have a 180 degree view. The second year Joyce worked programming and color layout while Bruce added a mega tree and modified the arches. We use a personal computer with software and hardware developed by a fellow Christmas-light enthusiast. The system runs 640 separate electrical circuits simultaneously to create a fantastic spectacular show. Each tree has its own circuit and is labeled for proper wiring.
With 240 unique trees and shrubs each one has a unique label. There are over 85,000 lights on the live trees and shrubs alone. The garden was designed to have continuous seasonal changes of color starting with over a thousand bulbs with spring blooming trees through fall color.
The mega trees are 20 and 22 feet tall each having 14 channels controlling 112 strands of lights each. That's 11,200 lights each. The Candy canes individually controlled. he arches each have over 8 channels controlling 32 strands of lights each; that's 15,000 lights! We have a total of over 140,000 thousand lights, but we are double checking that number because we think that it is more. If you laid the lights out on the ground, end-to-end- they would stretch out for a little over 9 miles. We have another 9 miles of connecting wires to the controllers.
All of the lights are LED. We are only drawing about 35 amps. The display could run with a few plugs if each item didn't have to plug individually into the controllers. The power bill only increases about $30 a month. Part of the reason the bill is so low is that the lights are not actually powered continuously. The controllers send the power in pulses which dramatically reduces to amount of electricity used.
The first and foremost reason we do it is because Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus and is the season to be thankful for the family we have. You'll never see any generic "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" signs at our house. You'll find the traditional candy canes, wreaths, colored lights, trees, stars, and snowflakes.
My mother would decorate all over the house. I remember checking every room to see what was in there.
Bruce and I love to decorate for Christmas. Going to the Geneva Christmas walk together has helped us to be get excited about our decorating in Geneva.
The enjoyment that kids and adults alike get when they see the show is amazing and well worth the effort it takes to put it on. All you have to do is look at their faces to realize the joy the displays bring. So many people have thanked us in person and notes in our mailbox.
May God bless you this Christmas season and throughout the year!
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December 2013 we had a fundraiser for The Well, a local church in Geneva, IL.
Congratulations to the winners of Mill Creek's 2012 Holiday Lighting Contest! We would like to thank all of the homeowners who participated and thanks to everyone who voted! Happy Holidays!
Bruce Papiech, a wind-farm developer in Geneva, Ill., went all-LED this season in his most elaborate holiday display ever: an extravaganza of more than 100,000 shimmering lights, choreographed via computer to Christmas carols.Several contractors assembled the display over seven weeks.
"I can literally plug everything into a single outlet," says Mr. Papiech, 59 years old, who estimated he is using less than 20 amps of electricity compared to the 100 he would need with incandescent lights.