WEB MASTER TUCKER HOTTES is supersizing his holiday lights. Oh yeah!
LEDs are the way to go
The bite in the air and flakes falling can mean only one thing: time to freeze our asses off putting up holiday decorations. My weekend after Thanksgiving has, for more than a decade, consisted of driving back to my mom’s place in the woods in rural northern New Jersey to set up Christmas lights. The house sits at the top of a hill with a long set of stairs, overlooking the surrounding houses along what is now a very busy local road. When I was a kid, and too young to assist with anything more than moral support, I’d watch her curse her way through hanging those old strings of C-9 bulbs around the picture window with a long stick.
As I grew up and was able to climb a ladder and reach the top of the window, I started taking over the lighting duties. For years, I did that one window until I decided to run an extension cord to another window by the living room. That became the norm for a while; then at some point during high school or so, I figured why not run some lights down the hundred or so yards of railing along the stairs. It looked amazing from the road, so I became committed to it. As the years progressed, I became more and more frustrated with the ancient strings and constant broken bulbs. To make matters worse, with the display getting more elaborate, my too-many-strung-together strands of electricity-chewing lights also began to start blowing fuses (mostly on the strings themselves, but I did occasionally trip a breaker or two back in the day). A couple years ago, I finally reached the end of my rope and threw all the old strings away in favor of fancy new LED lights.
That would have been the end of the story, really, except for some reason I have a compulsion to make things more elaborate with each passing year. Two years ago, after I realized how easy it was working with the LEDs, my mom requested that I string in the tree in the middle of her back yard. I complied, and it didn’t look too bad. Last year, I added another string, and that would have once again been the end of the story. But then, one evening when I visited last year, we were driving on a road that follows a ravine behind the house. I realized that with the bare trees in the winter, the new lights in the back yard were quite visible to all the new housing developments that sprung up in place of the farms that used to be in that particular valley.
So that’s how it came to be that I spent a weekend with numb hands on top of a ladder in a tree, stringing lights along a fence, putting together a 5-foot-tall wireframe snowman (tasteful, I swear), and drawing wiring diagrams for the project. Two heavy duty synchronized outdoor timers, eight 14-gauge extension cords running to four separate breakers, and one remote control operated switch later, and I’ve got the grandest holiday display yet.
All of this for a lighting extravaganza I’ll only see one other time this season. My only regret is knowing I’m going to have to work even harder next year to outdo myself.