For many families, a visit to Tony Circle in Catherine’s Place subdivision on the southwest side of Conway is becoming a holiday tradition.
On December evenings, the cul-de-sac is brightly lit with a computerized light show. Tony Brighter, data architect at Acxiom, and his wife, Angi, started the tradition at their home at 1305 Tony Circle with 18,000 lights on static display.
In five years, the display has expanded to include five of the Brighters’ neighbors, who collectively have more than 80,000 Christmas lights.
Most of the lights are part of a computerized light show that corresponds with music broadcast over radio frequency.
On most nights until New Year’s Eve, visitors to the street will receive a candy cane from Tony or Angi as they greet vehicles waiting in line to see their work.
"The main reason we do this is to hopefully reinstate family traditions. When I was a kid, my parents took me to see lights on the weekends. As I grew up, I noticed that started going away," Tony Brighter said. "When I got out on my own and got married, I started putting up a lot of lights, and I took it to the next level in 2007."
Another focus, he said, is to provide families with an activity that is free.
"By doing this, we provide something for families to do that’s fun and free. It’s something people can do as a family," Brighter said.
The show isn’t free for the Brighter household. The husband, wife and neighbors build the display for three weeks. The Brighters’ electricity bill increases by $100.
Programming each song can take about 200 hours, Brighter said.
"Each house has a control box, and we have to go in and for every second of a song, I have to tell the lights what to do. To bring that wow factor, it takes a lot of time," he said. "Everyone has their own electricity bill, and on my house it’s a little over $100 extra, but it’s worth it."
Brighter said in 2011 he and his wife gave out 13,000 candy canes to visitors. Weekend nights in December are busy in the neighborhood, and cars line the streets to wait.
"We do have some people willing to sit 30 or 45 minutes to see the show. The lines go down our streets, and it backs up quite a bit," he said.
There are 21 songs in the rotation that runs nightly from 5:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. On weekends, the show is usually on until 11:30 p.m., Brighter said.
Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the show will be on until 11:30 p.m.
As visitors come to the neighborhood, accessed from Nutter Chapel Road off of Dave Ward Drive, they should tune radios to 89.9 FM to hear the show’s music.
"I love Christmas. We are big with our holidays here," Brighter said. "We enjoy Halloween and we enjoy Christmas."
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)