Bluff Park Holiday House:
New Tradition Brings Smiles to Locals
By Heather , Bluffparkal.org
With to many strings of lights
to count Michael Johnson transforms his Bluff Park home and yard into a
joyful, animated show with twinkling and sparkling lights choreographed to
songs of the season. "It did not start out being like this,” Johnson
remembers. "It was just something interesting to do that has grown over the
Three years ago the self-professed “tech nerd”, started with a six channel
“Mr. Christmas” pre-programmed with six to eight songs and a speaker
built-in that sat in his front yard. He upgraded to a “Light-O-Rama” and was
hooked on large scale Christmas displays for the future!
"Each unit of the ‘Light-O-Rama’ has 16 channels and a computer program that
you import your music into," Johnson explains. "After importing, you then
program all of it.” The computer controls both the lights and the music.
Programming and physical labor is just all part of creating the show. "I
start with the roof, then the windows and columns”, Johnson says. He then
figures out what goes where in the yard like a blueprint - an outline of
wires and lights. "Once the majority of the display is up, I start adding
things and have been known to continue to add items right up to Christmas,"
The first years Johnson started putting up almost everything for his
animated display the day after Thanksgiving. Now, since the display’s size
has grown, Johnson starts working on the display right after Halloween. With
a flip of a switch on or around the week after Thanksgiving the show is
ready to go.
It is a growing tradition for many families in Bluff Park to drive down
Rockview Lane (2205 Rockview Lane) to see Michael Johnson's creation. He
even places a low wattage FM transmitter just inside the house so people
within a block or two can tune in to the audio for the show via 95.1 FM.
Once the show starts it repeats throughout the night.
Music for the display consists of upbeat Christmas songs and traditional
carols. "I mostly enjoy the upbeat songs because they make the show much
more exciting. It is hard to do slow, traditional Christmas songs. People
tend to drive off during those, but they are in there,” Johnson explains.
One favorite part of the children is the Grinch in the window. The songs and
animation are a project of their own. From beginning to end, each song takes
8 to 12 hours to program.
The community is grateful and supportive of the Bluff Park Holiday House.
The Johnson's get letters in their mailbox thanking them for the lights. It
is the kind notes and people stopping by that make it all worth the work.
"People stop and knock on the door to say thank you. I just enjoy building
things and seeing the result bring happiness and joy to others,” Johnson
Six to eight cars are all the street can handle at once so motorists wanting
to stop and enjoy the show will have to move through the street with
caution. On Christmas Eve last year (2013) there were around 200-250 cars
that came by throughout the night.
This year there are added strobe lights, more lights for the green tree, two
ten feet/eight channel arches, a 12 foot/eight channel spiral tree, and a
three channel 18 inch spinning star on top of the spiral tree. "I also hope
to add more this year that will show the celebration of Christ’s birth. That
is the real meaning of Christmas”, says Johnson.
The display is now a tradition in the Johnson home. "I have mentioned not
doing it before and was informed that I could not do that! So as long as I'm
healthy enough to do it, I guess I'll keep going!” Johnson says.
www.BluffParkAl.org interview with Michael Johnson, owner Bluff Park Holiday
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