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The Christmas show must go on

Ben and Laura Cook and their kids Paige and Parker show their holiday spirit in a big way at their Wellesley home. [Damon MacLean]

Decorating the house with Christmas lights is one of the few holiday activities that are still a go. For the Cook family in Wellesley, stringing lights around the house has been an ever-developing tradition, always trying to outdo the previous year’s display.

What originally started with having the lamp from a Christmas story displayed in their former Kitchener home window has now developed into a full light show with 25 songs synchronized to the display at their Wellesley home.

It’s become a large undertaking, with all hands on deck at 54 Ferris Drive: Ben and Laura, along with their daughter Paige and son Parker.

The project has “grown exponentially every year,” said Ben Cook. “We started with six channels and six strings of lights. And now we’re at 64 channels and I think we’re at 24-25,000.”

“Every year he adds something different. So, this year, he’s got like, these new blue and white trees. And he just added on some snowflakes and the ‘believe’ sign on the front [of the house],” added his wife, Laura.

Ben has an old work laptop that is now fully dedicated to running the light show. It operates on old software and doesn’t even have an internet connection, just a light software called Light Aroma. “There are four control boxes out there that are all connected via ethernet [cables]. And then they all turn on and off in line with the software,” Ben explained.

Having “a lot going on at once,” Ben has recruited help from a friend in Missouri. “You can get lost in it. But I have help. I have a guy actually in Kansas [City] who helps me with the programming. I did four songs myself, and spent 60 hours on four songs.” 

This year’s event’s opening sequence is the lighting scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with 24 other songs programmed and listenable through 100.1 FM transmitting from inside the Cooks’ home.

The house is a destination on two tours this year. The first is a stop on the Wellesley Parade of Lights, which runs this weekend, December 11, 12 and 13. The family has entered the contest for ‘Best Animated/Musical Display,’ hoping to win the prize.

“It is so fantastic to see. When you drive down the street now this year, there’s so many more lights than there has been in the past. So, it’s a lot of people that are participating and putting up lights, the more the merrier,” said Ben. 

The map for the parade is available through Christmas Tyme in Wellesley’s Facebook page. The next trek, the house is stamped on a map available on the CTV Kitchener website documenting light displays throughout the region. 

In addition to the light display, the Cooks are also asking for donations to the Twin Centre Hockey Memorial fund in the name of Jack Lichty, who passed away in October at the age of 14. Ben has plans to install a donation box outside of the display.

“We knew Jack very well, and we’re still reeling as a result of his death,” said Laura noting that Ben coached his team.

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