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December 18, 2013

Local Light-O-Rama displays draw Christmas crowd

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.

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