The Union Recorder

December 18, 2013

Local Light-O-Rama displays draw Christmas crowd

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Two neighbor families off Cambridge Drive take Christmas lights seriously.

The standard outside lights dangling from bushes or the roof just don’t cut it for the Kirbys or the Throwers.

Both houses feature Light-O-Rama displays, where thousands of incandescent bulbs synchronize to musical beats.

Passersby simply tune into a certain radio frequency to plug into a unique Christmas experience.

The Light-O-Rama system uses a digital sequencer. Each house uses three, 16-channel control boxes to run the various sections. Each controller plugs into a computer Internet connection.

All together these homes present 40,000 lights for spectator viewing.

All the lights used are high efficiency LEDs reducing energy consumption by nearly 90 percent compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.

“It’s actually less electricity than a house with a whole lot less lights,” Alan Thrower said.

Inspired by the Trans Siberian Orchestra and other houses seen online, the Throwers began the Light-O-Rama show six years ago becoming the first in Milledgeville.

The first year the sound went through a front porch speaker on one control box.

To protect neighborhood eardrums, the Throwers decided to switch to a small FM transmitter.

“We began broadcasting the music,” Alan said. “We put a little sign our front telling our visitors what frequency to turn their car radios to.”

Alan and Shelly Thrower leave the programming up to their tech-savvy son.

Cory Thrower, 20, personally programs five new songs each year.

The beat of each song is broken down into tenths of a second taking anywhere between 12 and 24 hours to program each. The custom songs are broadcast on 90.3 FM.

Kevin Kirby, 18, runs eight pre-programmed songs such as “All I want for Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” broadcast on 92.5 FM.

“My house works perfectly for it because the songs are built in stages of four, and I have four columns, four windows, four sets of bushes and four sections of roof,” Kirby said.

After seeing the Throwers across the street, the Kirbys wanted to start some friendly neighborhood competition.

“It’s kind of like a battle between the two houses,” he said. 

Kirby began with 15,000 lights two years ago. Now, his home includes 25,000 clear lights.

“He has the most lights in the neighborhood,” Alan said.

This is the first holiday season the Kirbys tried the synchronized system that can be turned on through a smart phone.

“It was our first time doing it with the controllers, so it took about six or seven whole days because you have to get everything wired for the first time,” Kirby said. “I was surprised about how many cords are involved in it. Our’s has close to 2,000 feet of extension cords.”

Cars already come through the area to view the shows.

Besides a little worn out grass neither family seems to mind all the attention. The hard work seems worth the Christmas cheer byproduct.

Several vehicles tuned in one early evening this week.

“It gets hectic Christmas Eve,” Kirby said.

The Throwers are developing a new project before Christmas Day adding 2,000 more lights to the current show.

“We aim to improve our show in some way each year,” Alan said.

Nearby Cords Bridge Road homeowner Bobby Murphey runs a Light-O-Rama show as well. Christmas spectators can catch the Murphey show on the way to the Kirby and Thrower displays this holiday.

To view or purchase the Neighbors feature page published in the print editiion, visit http://unionrecorder.smugmug.com/buy/25684023_DKg5s5/2976860273_4hznfHN/