Letter to the Editor: Christmas display

Dear Editor:

Doing Christmas displays is not new to me; after all, I’ve lived in Downey since 1961 and have been decorating my own house since the age of 10 years.

Over the years I had some very impressive displays at 7920 Melva Street. I was the first to create a 40-channel, 4,000 light, electronic Christmas tree and the only one to put the vintage C-9 bulbs in motion way back in 1989.

Being innovative comes second to nature for me, but this year it was time to lend some of that know-how to my sister’s display at 7614 Yankey. If you have not seen it this year, you should do so. It’s all new and quite a crowd pleaser.

I really pulled out all the stops this year by installing three computerized singing Christmas trees right up on the edge of the roof. Because of their very large size, special consideration had to be taken in bracing them to handle the big gusty winds we get every year.

And with her tile roof, that was a huge challenge since I could not screw them down. I designed a clever mechanical lock system to lock them in tight right under the tiles - no screws whatsoever.

Each singing tree is comprised of almost 200 addressable RGB LEDs. Timing sequences have to be programmed on the main computer inside the house to make each tree’s mouth sync to the music. Then the data is sent out serially over a CAT 5 cable to a network of controllers behind the trees. Each tree needs to receive the correct digital address from the main computer to light up the corresponding LED on the face of the tree to make it sing.

All this data is flying around at the speed of light to those trees, so fast you can’t tell each LED is actually being turned on one at a time!

Then for your listening pleasure, Christmas music is piped in stereo out to your car. The sound track is broadcasted on 100.7 FM plus outside over speakers at a soft level not to disturb the neighbors.

To give the display some sparkle, there are 250 strobe lights 25 feet in the air complemented by 4000 blue LEDs gracefully draped throughout the trees.

And finally, to add some electronic pizzazz to those trees, I hung thirty 10 inch, 300 white LED spheres from the trees and synchronized them to the music too. Besides all the new electronics stuff is a well done nativity scene plus other Christmas icons spread out the display. It takes about a full month to put it all up.

Please stop by and enjoy the best lights of the season in Downey!

Larry Osterhoudt
Downey