Originally published Dec. 17, 2015.
A small but mighty Christmas light show is not only the creation of a Huntington couple, it also pays tribute to an organization that has helped them and made an impression in their lives.
Chad and Danielle Waters have lived at their home at 1220 Superior St., near the intersection of Condit Street, since 2002. Chad graduated from ITT Technical Institute last year, studying electronics engineering technologies, and got the bug to create his own computer-programmed Christmas lights display after he was impressed by Chris Elston and the Team T.H.R.U.S.T. downtown Huntington lights display.
“I just said, ‘That’s so awesome,’ and that kind of inspired me to go ahead,” Chad Waters explains. “I really wanted to do it myself. But my thing is, I wanted to build everything myself.”
Chad, who works at Franklin Electric in Gas City as an electronics technician in the company’s new product development division, wrote the programming on his laptop computer, building his own circuit boards from scratch. It uses a 10-channel controller, synchronizing music to 30 strands of dancing lights. It took him about 50 to 60 hours of programming work over seven months. Each show lasts about 18 minutes long.
“They’re running on a solid-state relay, which allows the lights to flash a lot quicker and act a lot brighter, and give better responses to the music,” he says. “It starts off with Star Wars … a bunch of guys at my school said I had to incorporate the Star Wars theme into it.”
Other tunes include traditional and non-traditional Christmas selections, including “Santa Baby,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Christmas Wrapping,” about seven songs in total.
“There’s a Christmas dubstep,” Danielle says. “It’s kind of a classical-sounding song but it’s to the dubstep rhythm. Also, there’s the ‘Twelve Pains of Christmas,’ which is the star of the show.”
“It’s even got a little bit of the Minions singing a Christmas song in it,” adds Chad.
The Waterses, who have five cats of their own, have dedicated their display to Jamie’s Legacy, an organization which traps, spay/neuters and releases feral cats back into the community in an effort to control the population. They also seek to find homes for felines who are people-friendly.
“They came over because we had a pretty big cat population down here,” Chad, a self-described “big-time cat lover,” says. “It has actually decreased the cat population here in our part of the town.”
Danielle says Jamie’s Legacy also came to the rescue when they captured one of the “community cats,” which they discovered had given birth to a litter of kittens.
“Jamie’s Legacy helped us find homes for all of them, and they’ve been adopted,” Danielle adds. “After that we got her spayed through Jamie’s Legacy’s program.”
The couple hopes those who view the display will donate to Jamie’s Legacy through its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/jamieslegacy. A sign in front of their house directs viewers to the page.
“We want any donations to go straight to Jamie’s Legacy,” says Danielle.
The organization’s founder, Joan Gardave, says she is thrilled that the light show is dedicated to Jamie’s Legacy and focuses attention to what it does for the community.
“We feel absolutely honored. We just posted a link of their YouTube video and we’re hoping that people in the community will go by and see it while it’s running,” she says.
“Hopefully, they’ll go by, read the sign, go, ‘Who’s Jamie’s Legacy?’ and Google us and find our website or Facebook page, find out more about us and want to get involved.”
Gardave said she hopes the display will make more people aware of the need to trap, neuter/spay and release feral cats living in and around Huntington.
“There are thousands – thousands of cats in this city,” she says. “We get calls every day. I have hundreds on waiting lists from this year that we’re slowly getting to as we get the financial resources to do it.”
The display has been up and running since Thanksgiving, and the Waterses say their neighbors have largely been supportive of the bright – and potentially noisy – show.
“The neighbors have been great. They have been pulling their vehicles to the back of their house to open the street up,” Chad says. “It is kind of bright, even though it is just a small amount of strands, as you pull off of State to Condit here, you can kind of see the glow kind of coming off of all the other houses just a little bit there, because it is LED and incandescent lighting.”
This is the first year for the show. Chad says next year, he plans to extend it by doubling the effects, adding more music and including animation. A New Year’s display is also in the works, he says. He is in the process of creating a 15-minute show to be run on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
“It will be a little more upbeat music,” he explains. “The Christmas music will be set aside.”
The Waters’ Christmas light display can be viewed tonight, Thursday, Dec. 17, as well as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18, 19 and 20, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. each night. Visitors can tune into 94.5 FM to hear the music, but are asked not to run the audio too loudly out of respect for the neighborhood. There will likely be additional evenings for the display from Dec. 23 through Dec. 31, and extended viewing hours set for Christmas Day, Dec. 25, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
More information about Jamie’s Legacy can be found online at www.facebook.com/jamieslegacy.