Popular light display makes return to Paxton

PAXTON — Victor Johnson’s popular animated Christmas light display has made its long-awaited return to his family’s home in Paxton.

The display — featuring more than 140,000 multi-colored lights, all synchronized to music broadcast over a low-power FM transmitter — opened for the Christmas season on Nov. 25 after a two-year hiatus. It’s located at his parents’ two-story house at 332 W. Patton St.

The lights are synchronized to eight songs, with at least one more coming. People can drive down Patton Street, park their vehicles and listen to the songs on 89.9 FM.

The playlist runs on a continuous 22-minute loop during display hours. Through Jan. 6, the display is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday. It will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight on Christmas Eve and 5 to 11 p.m. on Christmas Day.

Johnson said that hopefully sometime this week, he will be adding a ninth song to the playlist: “Light of Christmas” by Owl City.

“It’s a fun, upbeat Christmas song,” Johnson said.

Also, after Christmas Johnson hopes to add “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Currently running are eight songs: “He’s a Pirate” (Pirates of the Caribbean) by Klaus Badelt, “Sandstorm”  by Darude, “Circle of Life” (Lion King)  by Elton John ft. Carmen Twillie, “Let it Go” (Frozen)  by Idina Manzel, “Amazing Grace” dance mix  by Yule, “Music Box Dancer”  by DJ Schwede, “Carol of the Bells”  by Monique Danielle and “What Child is This?” by Martina McBride.

The 28-year-old Johnson said he opened the display on the Saturday following Thanksgiving after putting in an estimated 200 to 250 hours of work into it in previous weeks. The display features more strobe lights on the house and “dripping icicles” in the trees in the front yard, Johnson said, but other than that, it remains unchanged from previous years.

Johnson said the traffic to the house has picked up in recent days, especially on weekends.

“Friday and Saturday are, by far, the busiest days,” Johnson said. “Basically any day Monday through Thursday there might be a very short line, but it’s manageable. It’s not like you’ll have to wait a half-hour like on the weekends.”

In 2015 and 2016, Johnson took a break from the display “to focus my time elsewhere,” he said. It was the first time that Johnson has not had a display since 2011.

“Honestly, I kind of enjoyed the break a little bit,” Johnson said. “I still enjoy (the display) a lot, but sometimes when the weather is bad and I run out of time, it gets a little overwhelming, working basically a second job almost.”

Johnson’s light display grew from 25,000 lights when he was a teenager to 85,000 lights in 2011 — the year he first had his lights synchronized to music, and also the first year he added colored lights. Today, there are more than 140,000.

“Since the debut of the synchronized display in 2011, things continue to grow each year,” Johnson said on his website, www.lightinguppaxton.com. “In 2012 more red and green lights were added, including more trees to the side yard.  In 2013 the large maple trees in the front yard got lights up to 50 feet in the air.  After two years off from assembling the massive display, 2017 features double the number of strobes and dripping light tubes.”

For more information about the display, people can visit www.lightinguppaxton.com or www.facebook.com/LightingUpPaxton.

Among other lighting projects Johnson has worked on in Paxton is the Federated Church’s display at the corner of Taft and Center streets.

“Mary and Joseph will be progressing across the yard as Christmas nears closer,” Johnson said.

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