christmas lights

The Christmas lights at the Smith family home in Smithfield are synced to music that is transmitted on an FM station.

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Jared Smith dreams of a bright Christmas.

In an elaborate display of synchronous lights and contemporary Christmas anthems, Jared Smith and his family have been lighting up the neighborhood for five years. Each year, Smith said, the show gets a little bit bigger.

“I love Christmas!” Smith wrote in an email to The Herald Journal. “I had contemplated doing a light show for years, but after our family watched The Great Christmas Light Fight show on TV we decided to give it a try.”

Smith said in the incipient stages of his light show, he watched hundreds of videos to determine how to put it together. He said his show generally has less lights than similar shows — with each multicolored LED precisely positioned and meticulously controlled to tell a “musical story.” Each minute of music requires three to four hours of programming — his show this year lasts around 30 minutes with around 3,000 lights.

“It took hundreds of hours the first year to put everything together,” Smith said. “Most everything is custom designed and hand-built.”

According to Smith, the show uses five different light controllers and hundreds of feet of cabling but is surprisingly efficient.

“The entire show is controlled by a simple Raspberry Pi computer that is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand,” Smith said. “Because everything is LED, it requires very little power — no more than a dollar’s worth per night.”

Smith said the show is not about using the largest quantity of lights and props — something his family refers to as “Christmas light barf.” He said he chooses songs with solid rhythms he can tolerate to hear hundreds of times. This year’s show features “Flurries” — an instrumental song from American metal band August Burns Red. Though not a traditional Christmas song, Smith said when he first heard it he envisioned how it would look and knew he had to add it to this season’s playlist.

“I want to tell a story with my show animation and music, get viewers to smile, be mesmerized with the Christmas spectacle, and tap their toes,” Smith said, perhaps with occasional head-banging.

Smith’s show runs every night from 5:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 1.

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