DeKALB – People driving by 9716 Rich Road in DeKalb will see what Nick Andreas likes to call a “menagerie of lights.”
That menagerie, which consists of 45,000 light bulbs that turn on and off to holiday and popular music, sits in his backyard.
“I remember when I was a kid, I used to love driving around with my parents seeing the Christmas lights and everything like that,” Andreas said. “It’s nice to give back.”
This is Andreas’ second year hosting Nick’s Christmas Spectacular. Last year, he started with the smaller lit trees and the giant tree in the center. This year, he added a snowflake wall as well as an arc that encompasses the display.
“We just keep adding on, more and more,” Andreas said.
The music is broadcast on 89.7 FM via a small transmitter Andreas bought. That way, cars driving by on Rich Road can pull over and listen to music without the neighbors getting annoyed by outside speakers, Andreas said.
“It’s playing to the beat of the music,” Andreas said. “We sit there and program it according to the software that came with the controllers. Every tenth of a second of the song represents what I can do with the lights.”
Andreas described the programming as very tedious. He estimated that one minute of a song can take up to 10 hours to program. With 30 minutes of music in Nick’s Christmas Spectacular, that translates to 300 hours of programming, not to mention the time it takes to set up the physical display.
Andreas declined to mention how much money he has spent on the lights, although running the lights affects his power bill the same way an air conditioner running in the summer would affect it. He said seeing people stop their cars to watch the show makes it worth it.
“I really like Christmas, and I like to tinker with things,” Andreas said. “This is something that provided me an experience to do that, and the joy it brings to the community.”
Andreas graduated from Northern Illinois University’s College of Business, although he originally was an engineering major. His parents work in the lawn and garden business, and he described himself as “hands-on.”
He said people who are interested in creating this kind of display should be prepared to go over their budget because it will happen. All it takes is a little electrical know-how and people can learn to do it themselves.
He said he has no idea what he’s going to do next year. He wants to have some sort of donation box for charity available. He just has to figure it out.
“I definitely want to give back to the community for people who come out and see it,” Andreas said. “That’s my next goal. To do something like that.”