There are Christmas displays... and then there are magical works of art that are a labor of love. Some might say the incredible arrangement of lights and music at the Briarwood Drive East home of Jack and Teri Klingert is among the latter.
"We decided about a year ago to give it a shot," he said, humbly describing something more akin to hitting a home run in the first at-bat.
His decorations—the result of 12-months of planning, constructing and programming—includes 15,000 LED lights on graceful arches, miniature Christmas trees and one 17-foot tree, and angels dancing and illuminating four carefully chosen Christmas sings broadcast on an FM signal for passing motorists to enjoy ("passing" isn't really correct, since few can help but stop and admire).
"It's a way to give back to the community," Klingert said.
Klingert, a former Bell Labs engineer, became enamored of the world of "Blinky Flashy," as aficianados of the elaborate decorations call their hobby, and dove in. An online community growing around the website at doityourselfchristmas.com helped him locate supplies—he needed more than a mile of wire to construct his display—as well as vendors from Nebraska to South Africa and China.
Most amazingly, he devised the entire layout in his head.
"I couldn't believe he could do it that way—I'd need a written plan," Teri said.
But she added when it came time to assemble everything outside, his number- and color-coordinated cables and wires made it a snap.
"We just needed two warm and dry weekends in November to assemble it," Klingert said.
And everything worked on the first flip of the switch (take that, Clark Griswold!)—although he admits to tweaking some of the lights.
Since each light can be controlled down to one-twentieth of a second, with hundreds of possible brightness settings, he has adjusted some to better fit the music. Each light has been individually programmed, and is operated by a control box operating using software running on a desktop computer inside the house. Amazingly, the whole display uses about 150 watts of electricity—less than three medium-wattage incandescent light bulbs.
How do you synchronize hundreds of lights to music?
"Well, first you have to listen to each song...over and over...and over," he said. Eventually, ideas for synchronizing the lights came to him and he made the necessary settings.
Now as Christmas approaches, the couple watch with joy as drivers pull up and watch the 15-minute presentation.
"We can hear the kids screaming and laughing," Klingert said. "It really makes us happy."
You can see more of the display on their Facebook page.
For the best view of the display, Klingert said to take Briarwood Drive West off of Liberty Corner Road, and tune your radio to 92.7 FM for the music accompaniment. The display is set to automatically shut down at about 10:15 p.m.
This article has been edited to include the number of lights in the display, and correct the time it took to set up.