It’s becoming a holiday tradition in El Paso, Texas. On weekends in December, upwards of 1,000 spectators gather outside a private home to view a massive show of Christmas lights. Strung on natural palm trees, artificial evergreens, Yuletide figurines, and a 250-foot fence that runs the length of the property, the glittering lights move and chase in sync with the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which comes wafting over a PA system, filling the neighborhood with the sounds of the season.
Over 150,000 red, green, blue, and white lights are included in the holiday display, which covers an entire block. The lights are hooked up to 159 DP-415 and Uni-Pack dimmers from Elation Professional, all of which are programmed and controlled by Elation’s Compu 2048FC+ PC-based lighting software.
Sponsored by the homeowner’s locally based business, Fred Loya Insurance, the Christmas light/music display is now in its second year. And the 2007 version is about triple the size of last year’s show, says Esteban De La Torre of H.B. Electronics of El Paso, which wired and programmed the lighting for both.
“Last year we kept it relatively simple with just red and white lights, but this year the homeowner wanted to upgrade and have more variety,” explains De La Torre. “So we added a lot more lights, including some green and blue, along with more chases and scenes. We’ve got 374 channels going this year, compared to 120 last year.”
All told, there are 400 amps of Christmas lighting at the home, reports De La Torre. One of the most outstanding new features is the keyboard-themed fence, which is lit with white and blue lights to resemble piano keys. The lights on the individual “keys” turn on and off in sync with the music, making it look like a giant piano is playing.
Another awesome sight is an illuminated forest of 53 natural palm trees in the front yard, all aglow with white lights on their trunks and green lights on their foliage. Each of the palm trees is controlled individually. There is also a 12-foot evergreen strung with red, green, and blue lights, which are programmed in different chase patterns. The red and green lights go around in circles, while the blue lights chase from top to bottom.
Other notable features are 35 smaller 5-foot evergreen trees decorated in multi-colors, and a multitude of lighted Christmas figurines and images from stars, to nativity figures, to 50 reindeer.
According to De La Torre, it took four days to wire the lights, which are standard Christmas lights purchased by the homeowner. “Last year, he used conventional lights, but because of the high power consumption, he switched to half LEDs this year to save energy,” De La Torre notes. Another 100 hours of programming was required to get the display up and running.
The Elation Compu 2048FC+ software made it easy to create and control the show, says De La Torre, who did the programming. “We can do everything off the software. We’re using the top-of-the-line Compu version with the Easy Time feature, which lets me just drag and drop my scenes after I’ve created them. It’s really simple.”
Because the software also controls a timer, running the display is easy for the homeowner too. “The lights automatically turn on at 5 pm and off at 11 pm. The homeowner doesn’t have to do anything,” adds De La Torre. The light show is run on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with three performances each evening at 6pm, 7pm, and 8 pm. During those times, De La Torre personally goes to the home to make sure everything works as planned. “I’m there to run the show. But all I have to do is press Play. With the Compu software, the show runs by itself.”