Wellesley’s Cook family has come up with a unique way to spread their love for the Christmas season, one with a rockin’ beat.
When you drive by their 54 Ferris Dr. home, spectators are invited to tune their car radios to 100.1 FM and take in the show.
There are 32 strings of lights with 10,000 bulbs placed over the facade of their home and each string is carefully programmed to follow the beat of the music, putting on a spectacular display of flashing, shimmering and twinkling lights.
Ben Cook spearheaded the project. He says he started small, and it has just grown exponentially over the years.
“This is the second year that we have gone big, but the third or fourth year that I have done something like this. It is starting to get out of hand now,” he said with a laugh.
“Right now we are at about 10,000 bulbs, but I want to get up to 25,000 because that is what Clark Griswold had in Christmas Vacation,” he added in reference to the popular 1989 Chevy Chase film.
The entire display takes about 20 hours to set up, or two and a half days with a little help from his kids, Parker and Paige.
Laura Cook says she has only heard good things about the flashy and extravagant Christmas display at their home.
“We just get so much feedback from the kids. They really love it. Really, the whole neighbourhood just loves it,” she said.
Ben says he does it to give the neighbourhood a bit of Christmas cheer this time of year, when the nights are dark and colder, and the sun sets at its earliest.
“It is for everyone else to enjoy and I love doing it. It is just fun,” he said. “I just hope it gives people a smile. I want to spread a little Christmas spirit, that’s all.”
Last year was the first year Ben connected the Christmas light display to a radio station. The change allows him to keep the volume a bit lower on the music playing out front on the street.
“When people stop in their cars, they can stay warm and still listen,” he said, adding that programming the lights in the first place isn’t an easy task. “It is all a software program that is ridiculously complicated. I only programmed one song myself, the rest of them I downloaded from friends and the Internet. There is a whole network where people program their own lights and share with everyone else.”
Laura says she is glad to see that there are other people doing the grunt work of programming Christmas favourites to different light shows.
“It is a huge task. You could spend hundreds of hours programming songs. It is nuts. We have 32 channels of lights out there and you have to program every string for every second for every song,” she said.“Each one of those has to be programmed for when it is coming on, when it is turning off, when it is dimming, when it is shimmering and it all has to go to the beat of the music.”
And advice for anyone who wants to attempt their own programmable Christmas light show?
“Just dive in. Just get into it. You can start small. The first one we did had six channels of lights. Then we went to 16 channels, then 32. You just have to get your feet wet and find out if you like it,” he said.
Anyone is invited to take a drive through the Village of Wellesley and stop and take in the light show at 54 Ferris Dr. Tune your radio to 100.1 FM and sit back.
Both Ben and Laura invite anyone who enjoys the light show to donate some non-perishable food items to their local food bank and help give back this holiday season.