In 2005, a commercial on television featured an animated Christmas lights display set to music. The display was done by an electrical engineer from Ohio named Carson Williams. The popularity of the commercial and video, which was passed around the internet, inspired many people to set up their own animated Christmas light displays and there are three (that we know of) in Fayette County that residents can drive to and see through the Christmas season.
Robert Burton, the band director at J.C. Booth Middle School, has a display at his house off Hi-Lo Road in Fayetteville (165 Stafford Court). He had done a static display featuring between 10-12,000 lights for 15 years but took the plunge several years ago and decided in 2009 to give an animated display a shot. His display this year features close to 30,000 lights.
Burton estimates that it takes between five and eight hours to set the lights for one minute of music in a sequence. He uses Light-O-Rama computer software and controllers to design and set his lights.
Burton knows of two other gentlemen in the county that do animated light displays: Tom Langley (201 Felspar Ridge in the Morallion Hills subdivision off Braelinn Rd. in Peachtree City) and Robert Dietz (Highgrove Subdivision in Fayetteville).
Planning for their annual displays typically starts months before December and this year Burton and Langley also set up Halloween displays.
Burton’s display features 11 songs including “Stille Nacht” from Mannheim Steamroller, “Christmas Don’t be Late” from The Chipmunks, “Joy to the World” and “Christmastime” by Go Fish, “Blue Christmas” by Harry Connick Jr. and “Believe in the Holiday Magic,” which was used in a Disneyland Christmas fireworks show, among others. Langley’s display features “Wizard in Winter” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, among others. and Dietz’s display, which last year, featured “Sleigh Ride,” “Polar Express” and “Shake Up Christmas” features even more lights and new songs this year.
Videos of Burton and Dietz’s displays can be found on YouTube. Burton also has a web site, www.burtonchristmaslights.tk, where videos and a map to the house can be found. The lights should be seen in person though and neither Langley nor Burton have had any complaints from the neighbors. This is mainly because visitors to the displays tend to be considerate. Both Langley and Burton have also been collecting Toys for Tots at their displays and will do so this week as well.
In addition to the animated displays, Fayette County also has the Gaddy’s drive through display of lights and decorations on Sandy Creek Road and Living Proof Church, 414 Jenkins Rd. by Sandy Creek High School, also has a drive through lights and scenes of the holiday season display. Looking at the lights is a great Christmas tradition and one that can’t help but put you in the holiday spirit.