The Weeks family, of 1405 Swartz Fairbanks Road, Monroe, won the grand prize in the Hallmark Channel Light Up The Holidays Sweepstakes. More than 320 man-hours, 25,000 LED lights and 4 miles of copper wire went into the display.(Photo: Bonnie Bolden/The News-Star)
MONROE, La. — Drive down a rural Ouachita Parish road at night, and you're in for a surprise. A flashing display, complete with a giant Christmas tree, lights up the night. Turn your radio to 88.5 FM, and the lights sync up with Trans-Siberian Orchestra tunes.
The Weeks family won the grand prize in the Hallmark Channel Light Up The Holidays Sweepstakes.
Billy Weeks said he saw the competition come across the TV and thought his wife, Ramona, would like it because she loves to decorate for the holidays. He said winning was a blessing.
Ramona's mother died in September. They found out about winning the competition the same week via email. Billy said their teenage son, Trey, kept saying it was a hoax and he hadn't won. Then the pallets of lights started arriving at the house. "I kept telling him it was a real thing that I'd entered," Billy said.
The display has helped Ramona deal with the first holidays without her mother. Billy said it's relaxing for her to come home from work, then sit outside and watch a pretty light show. It's good she can enjoy it without having to put it up.
"Whenever you pull up in the driveway and you have the music on already, it just cheers you up," Ramona said. "You can't help but let it cheer you up. ...
"It was a blessing from God that my husband entered the contest because he knows how much I love to decorate for Christmas. And then it's really helped me this year with the passing of my mom. I know she's smiling down at us because she would have loved to see these lights, because she loved Christmas, too."
Ramona said if they hadn't won, the outside of the house probably wouldn't have been decorated. She encourages anyone who comes by to see the lights to enjoy the Christmas season and hug their loved ones because family is so important.
The budget has been tight, Billy said, since he became disabled. The energy-efficient lights let them have a massive display without breaking the bank.
A light display at 1405 Swartz Fairbanks Road, Monroe, syncs up with three Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs. To hear the music, tune a radio to 88.5 FM. The Weeks family will keep the lights on from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. through Dec. 31. (Photo: Bonnie Bolden/The News-Star)
"The trees do all kinds of magical things," Billy said. The FM-transmitter, he said, broadcasts for about half a mile in each direction of the house. The light show cycles through three songs, and the family has an area near the front of the house where people can pull over and watch the lights.
The display, Billy said, took a massive time to install. The family fed the eight-man crew on its last day on the job to show country hospitality.
The installation was done by Parker 3D, a worldwide leader in giant synchronized lighting spectaculars. The Weeks' display took more than 320 man-hours to install 25,000 LED lights which required more than 4 miles of cooper wire to connect.
The installation team was led by Eric Browne, who has done hundreds of professional installs for Parker 3D.
"The mega-tree was a challenge," Browne said. "We were going to auger holes into Mr. Weeks’ yard, but that part of his yard was all clay and rocks. So, he went to his shed and pulled out railroad spikes, which we had to sledgehammer into the ground to anchor the tree. ... The family couldn't have been more warm and helpful. The fried chicken and mashed potatoes rocked!”
Parker 3D has done more than 50 giant light shows worldwide from cities like Nassau in the Bahamas to Toronto to Dubai and including such U.S. classics as Blink at Faneuil Hall in Boston.
Programming by world-famous programmer Carson Williams, whose house was one of the top viral videos 10 years ago. It became a sensation that was featured on the Today show and was featured in its own Bud Light commercial.
The prize consists of installation and removal of 20,000 energy-efficient LED Christmas lights set to sync with Trans-Siberian Orchestra music; laptop computer controller and software; installation and removal of 3,000 special LED-based lights fully controlled by computer where any light can be any color at any time; installation and removal of multiple floodlights fully controlled by computer where any floodlight can be any color at any time; installation and removal of approximately 100 strobe lights; and everything installed, removed and choreographed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s lighting technicians.
Follow Bonnie Bolden on Twitter: @Bonnie_Bolden_Want to go?
Drive by 1405 Swartz Fairbanks Road, Monroe, La., and tune your car radio to 88.5 FM between 5 p.m and 12:30 a.m. through Dec. 31.