A Christmas display far from ordinary

DOWNEY - This Christmas, Johnny Sibaja wasn't going to put up his usual lights display, but after some quick contemplation, the 32-year-old engineer couldn't resist.With 112 computerized channels, 7 circuit boards, 25 spot lights and 6 water pumps that shoot streams of water high into the air, Sibaja's outdoor Christmas display is far from ordinary. Since 2007, the Downey native has produced an elaborate light and water show in his front yard using a computer program called Light-O-Rama, which allows its owners to animate their light displays by synchronizing them with holiday music. When Sibaja first saw the technology in action, he was mesmerized. "A couple of years ago, there was a video going around the internet of this house. It was somebody back east - their lights and music were all synchronized," said Sibaja. "My sister forwarded it to me and said, "Top this." I said, "That's my new challenge - I need to do this." After some online research, Sibaja, who graduated from ITT Technological Institute in 2002 with a Bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering, found the Light-O-Rama software and began drafting his own light show. Before his computerized orchestration comes to life, Sibaja programs each light and water feature, selecting which actions they must do for every second of the 13 songs he runs continually in a loop each night. Although the music is played outside the home, visitors can also listen to the music inside their cars. Sibaja uses a small FM broadcaster, which plays his music on 107.7 FM, broadcasting the holiday tunes more than 200 feet from his house so sightseers can hear them, while viewing the choreographed show. As jazzy horns blast in the background, bright beams of light skip, hop and twirl over wide arches. In the front window, a life-sized bear dressed in a red Santa suit moves his lips as if to sing "Jingle Bells," while water pops up into the air, colored by green, blue and red lights. Depending on its length, Sibaja said it takes anywhere from four to eight hours to program one song into his computer. "I try to concentrate on one particular area at a time," he said. "I can see the peaks in the music and I try to match the lights with it." Though the intricate display adds about $50-$60 more to Sibaja's monthly light bill, the Downey High School graduate maintains that the sacrifice is well worth it. "I've spent over $1,000 for the equipment I have so far," said Sibaja. "I do it for the people. I've always decorated, but I just wanted something unique and different. The kids love it - I just want to give back to them and say "Merry Christmas." Sibaja's home is located at 7857 Cole St. where his show runs Sunday through Thursday from 6 - 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 - 10:30 p.m. However, Sibaja said he will extend the show until midnight this weekend for Christmas. The show will end after New Year's weekend. As for Sibaja, the buzz word for next year's light show is "more." "I'm already thinking of what to do next year," he said. "I want more channels, more LED lights - maybe more water features."

********** Published: December 25, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 35