Dare turns into Christmas display

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 06:30 PM

It all began with a dare. 

Seven years later, the Lake Park Lights are still going strong, providing holiday cheer and entertainment for the area. 

The display began as a dare during the Superbowl. One of the commercials featured a musical light display. 

David Brown was watching with a coworker who leaned over and said, "I bet you can't do that," Brown recalled. Thus, the gauntlet was thrown. 

Brown does not count the number of light bulbs, instead he counts the number of channels or light circuits. Seven years ago they had 56 channels. This year, they have 367 channels, covering two houses.

The display is on 4019 Lake Charles Way in Lake Park. The show runs from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. weekdays, with an extra show at 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It will run through the new year. Cars pull up and tune their radio to 94.5 FM, which will play the music that accompanies the show. Shows run every half hour and are about 20 minutes long. While many watch from their cars, others enjoy watching from the sidewalk. 

The show is free and the Brown Family is collecting donations for the Union County Christmas Bureau. 

Turnout has been good so far. 

"We've had pretty warm weather, so the street's been full," Brown said. "The week of Christmas, it will be absolutely nuts." 

For Brown, 46, and his wife Lisa, the process begins in the summer. In the summer they choose the music and begin building specialized lights. 

"Meanwhile both of us are programming and that constitutes hours and hours of computer programming," Brown said. 

Programming the lights to move with the music is the bulk of the work, he added. 

Though Brown works with computer networks, there has been a learning curve. 

"We learned as we (went) along," Brown said. "It gets easier and easier every year. The first year was all new to us, but it gets kind of routine." 

Christmas is Brown's favorite holiday and even though the dare was only for one year, he continues to work to put up the display. 

"We just saw what a spectacle it's become for the community," Brown said. "People just show up and bring carloads of kids. It's really awesome for both of us to stand out on the sidewalk." 

The Browns have lived in Lake Park for about 14 years. Brown hopes to continue the light display into the future. 

"If you've ever been told that you're part of someone's holiday tradition, that's a big thing," he said. 

For more information, visit www.LakeParkLights.com.