Wadena man loves putting on Christmas light show
WADENA - Greg "G.P." Anderson of Wadena loves Christmas.
But he doesn't love it in the quiet, solemn way that many people mark the occasion. He loves it in an explosion-of-light-and-sound sort of way that's more reminiscent of the Fourth of July.
Anderson's residence at 414 Third Street SW (just south of Memorial Auditorium) is a bright, flashing celebration of Christmas each evening. His holiday light display is set to music, and people from all around park on his street every evening, tune their radios to his small transmitter at 88.1 FM, and enjoy the show.
Anderson said the inspiration for his Christmas light and music show came from a TV ad.
"We saw the commercials on the SuperBowl," Anderson said. "Remember Budweiser had that commercial -- the lights? And I thought, oh my gosh, that is unbelievable. It was a simple display. Well then I researched it, and then I hooked up with a friend in Utah, who hooks up with a friend who's at the Bellagio in Vegas, and next thing you know, we're all back and forth, and there's a community of guys that have ramped this up."
The next thing you know, Anderson was stringing lights in his basement -- 45,000 of them. He had purchased a computerized synching program, electrical controllers, and everything he needed to set his Christmas light show to music, from 2.5 miles of extension cords to 8,000 cable zip ties to hold it all together.
Anderson is quick to point out that his lights aren't just on, and they don't just flash to the music. They're animated -- and every time any of the 45,000 lights turn on, turn off, or just fade on or off a little, he had to program that -- choreograph it in his head and enter it into his computer.
"I want you to know, there is no class on what I'm telling you here," Anderson explained. "You cannot believe the learning curve [for the software]."
It's not a flashing light show, he said. It's a computerized, choreographed symphony. Anderson, the finance manager at Thielen Motors in Park Rapids, said he started devoting weekends and evenings to the project in November 2007 to get it ready for Christmas 2008.
"It's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours," he said.
Anderson explained it takes him about nine hours to program the lights for every 15 seconds of music. And he has 12 minutes of music.
Is it expensive?
"Some people buy four-wheelers, some people go hunting and fishing, I really like Christmas lights," Anderson said with a coy smile.
He said his electricity bill, while increased, isn't sky-high. He said since only some of the lights are on at any given time, his bill has only gone up about $100 per month.
Anderson's show takes place Monday through Thursday from 5:30-9 p.m., and runs from 5:30-10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He maintains a Web site at www.ChristmasInWadena.com to keep fans abreast of show times and other tidbits.
He keeps a container outside for people who enjoy the show to donate to the Food Shelf. He said he's already gotten about $200 and a dozen bags of food donated.
Is he going to do this again next year? Well, that's a question that, when you recognize Anderson's enthusiasm and excitement, you know the answer to before you ask. A better question: "Are you going to do this even bigger and better next year?"
"Oh my gosh!" Anderson exclaimed. "You can't believe what I'm going to do."