Fact Check

Carson Williams' 'Wizard in Winter' Christmas Light Display

Video captures home Christmas light display synchronized to musical score.

Published Nov 29, 2005

Claim:   Video captures home Christmas light display synchronized to musical score.

Status:   True.

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, 2005]

I received this video from a friend. It's a video of someone's Christmas lights that appear to be choreographed to music. To me, it looks like photos of the lights could have been edited together to match the music. But, then again, with people spend $1000s on Halloween décor, it sure seems possible that someone would have taken the next step with their Christmas lights! Fun video to watch regardless.

Origins:   The video clip displayed above
shows home Christmas lights synchronized to flash in time to a musical score, in this case Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Wizard in Winter" (from The Lost Christmas Eve album).

This display was the work of Carson Williams, a Mason, Ohio, electrical engineer who spent about three hours sequencing the 88 Light-O-Rama channels that controlled the 16,000 Christmas lights in the 2004 version of his annual holiday lighting spectacular. His 2005 display included over 25,000 lights that he spent nearly two months and $10,000 to hook up. So that the Williams' neighbors wouldn't be disturbed by constant noise, viewers driving by the house were informed by signs to tune in to a signal broadcast over a low-power FM radio station to hear the musical accompaniment.

The rough quality of the video from Christmas 2004 led some viewers to believe it was put together in stop-action form using still photographs, but that appearance was an artifact of the high compression used in the clip circulated via e-mail. Mr. Williams posted instructions

for recreating his "Wizard in Winter" sequencing, and another of his choreographed Christmas light music shows can be viewed here.

Carson's Christmas display proved so popular that it was featured in a Miller Lite beer commercial in December 2005. Unfortunately, it also proved so popular that after a 6 December 2005 traffic accident in his neighborhood, Carson Williams agreed to indefinitely discontinue his display because it was causing severe traffic congestion problems.

For 2006, Mr. Williams wanted to exhibit his show somewhere that would make it more accessible to the public, so he arranged a partnership with Festivals of Mason, Inc. to host his "Christmas in Lights" show at Heritage Oak Park on U.S. 42 from December 2 through December 31. This year's entry will present continuous shows using a number of decorated house facades that visitors can view from their cars
drive-in-theater style, again using FM radios to listen to the musical accompaniment.

Here's the 2005 Miller Lite commercial based on Carson's Christmas 2004 display:

Additional information:

  Interview with Carson Williams   Radio interview with Carson Williams   (WGMD, Delaware)
  Interview with Carson Williams   TV Interview with Carson Williams   (The Today Show)

Last updated:   23 December 2008


Sources Sources:

    Brown, Jessica.   "25,000 Lights Dance to Music."

    The Cincinnati Enquirer.   5 December 2005.

    Brown, Jessica.   "Deerfield 'Light' House Pulls the Plug."

    The Cincinnati Enquirer.   7 December 2005.

    Kaper, Tom.   "Meet the Light Show Designer, Carson Williams."

    The Oxford Press.   22 November 2006.

    Wilson, Richard.   "Car Crash, Heavy Traffic Turn out Christmas Light Show."

    Dayton Daily News.   7 December 2005.

    Dayton Daily News.   "Warren County Light Display Stars in Beer Commercial."

    20 December 2005.

    Internet Broadcasting Systems.   "Christmas House Video Is Quite a Sight."

    Local6.com.   1 December 2005.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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