The Norman Transcript

Local news

December 6, 2009

Family welcomes Christmas with synchronized light show

NORMAN — Forget presents. For one Norman family, the highlight of the holiday season is Christmas lights, lots of Christmas lights.

For the third year, Kimberli and Chuck Downs, along with their four children, have put together a 22-minute light show at their house that is synchronized with music. The light display is located on the west side of 72nd Avenue SE, just south of State Highway 9.

The show, with music ranging from a grandiose version of "O Holy Night" sung by David Phelps to a rocked out version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" sung by Relient K, runs through Jan. 2. The show is free, but the family is asking that guests bring canned food to donate to the Regional Food Bank.

The donations are an idea that the family began last year. By the end of the holiday season, Kimberli Downs said they were emptying the donation box three times a night and delivering food to the food bank at least once a week. Overall, the family reported that they donated about 8,500 meals to the Regional Food Bank last year.

"It gives you goosebumps seeing people give back," Kimberli Downs said.

A money collection box has been added this year for visitors who show up empty-handed, but still want to give.

The show began running Nov. 20 and already the Downses have reported big crowds. To track the traffic flow, Chuck Downs said he installed a car counter. On Nov. 27, 340 cars came out to view the light show. As Christmas draws closer and word begins to spread, the family expects even larger crowds.

"Last year, Christmas Eve was incredible; the lawn looked like a parking lot," Kimberli Downs said.

The 70-foot trees and dancing waves are tempting, but the family asks that guests not walk around the display. Chuck Downs said electric cords are strewn around the front yard; it could be hazardous for those who don't know where to step. Guests are asked to pull into the entrance, turn off their headlights and park their car on the lawn to the right of the driveway. Radios should be tuned to 107.1 FM to hear the accompanying music. To exit, visitors are asked to get back on the main road and follow it past the barn where the donation box is located. The exit is just south of the entrance.

Although the show only runs for a month or so, the family spends the better part of four months setting up and programming songs. Chuck Downs said it takes him about 30 to 40 hours to program one song to the lights. Everyone pitches in to get the lights put around the trees and on the house.

This family activity has transformed the way they view Christmas. It has become more about giving back. Kimberli said the girls were strongly affected last year by seeing how much of a difference the food they collected made at the food bank.

"Christmas has really taken a different turn for them," she said.

For more information on the light display, visit downsfamilychristmas.com.



SIDEBARS:



With this many lights twinkling every night, you may think the family has a hefty electric bill to deal with in December. However, Chuck Downs said that is not the case.

"Oddly, it's less, because my landscape lights aren't on," he said. Downs uses LED lights on all the displays. Between the energy-saving bulbs and the fact that the lights are on and off instead of steadily burning, the December electric bill actually comes in lower than the rest of the year.



SIDE 2:



Songs



The family has five songs programmed along with an intro. The total time runs 22 minutes. Below is the list of songs.



"Joy to the World"

"Taking Care of Christmas"

"Jingle Bells"

"O Holy Night"

"The 12 Days of Christmas"

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