Spectacular Lights in Long Lake

The Long Lake Lights are an animated display of Christmas lights set to music and can be found at 46 Stone Lane in Long Lake, NY through the first week of January 2012. There are over 14,000 LED lights set to 40 minutes of Christmas music designed, implemented and produced by resident Long Laker and electrician Bill Ellick.

Bill started the show in 2008 because as he says “I wasn’t in debt deep enough and there were so many dark houses in Long Lake at the holidays, I felt I could do something to brighten things up.” He wanted to offer the people of the community something fun celebrating the season and he also admits he likes projects “so I started up with this.”

Long Lake Lights 2011 Photo by Bill Ellick

The lights are controlled by channel boxes purchased from Light-O-Rama in Glens Falls, NY. Each card has 16 channels and are managed through a software program to control the lights and music. To save a few dollars Bill purchases kits to build the controllers used for the show. Bill’s show airs on 87.9 on a legal FM transmitter and when the show isn’t running there is over 40 hours of Christmas music playing.

Bill programs the entire production himself and selects the music for the show. The first song he ever programmed is Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Father Christmas” and it still remains one of his favorites. Bill works on each song to follow the music beat by beat. “I have to listen to each song about 400 times.” It takes a minimum of three to six hours to program one minute of music and Bill has 40 minutes of show time. He has also implemented two songs designed by another programmer.

To test the show Bill can control the show remotely through his laptop and wireless router right from his car. As the season progresses he adds new elements having just added candy cane spinners over the weekend. The show is constantly evolving depending on how much time he has and what treasures he unearths in the basement. A bargain hunter, Bill often takes advantage of the end of year Christmas sales to enrich his collection of decorations.

This project is continuous. Next season he hopes to showcase an animated sleigh with reindeer to fly across his house. This year he didn’t put out the choir, or “plastic people” as he calls them. He has plans to create a mountain top with a church, and set the “plastic people” throughout the trees to create a narrative winter scene set to music. At this point he’s looking at an investment of about $8000 for the props so that portion of the project is on standby. He has also considered lighting up trees behind his home to add some more depth to the production.

Bill uses high quality strings of LED lights. There are 120 strings of LED’s illuminating his Christmas tree and each string is about $20 to $25 and “knock on wood, they’ve lasted four years so far.” The electricity bill has been reasonable because the animation of the lights it isn’t drawing as much power as people think. The program and the radio station run off one computer. Everything is timed and all in all, he estimates he uses a total of about five minutes of full power for a 40 minute show.

He doesn’t mind the look of the LED’s either. “LED’s have a deep color, some people don’t care for the pure white of the LED’s and prefer the look of the incandescent glowing yellow colors, but only five percent of my show utilizes incandescent lights.” Bill wishes he had more lights, but he will only use the best quality to avoid the pitfalls of power outages and unpredictable weather. The lights have held their own through torrents of rain, ice and snowstorms.

Bill has been working with electronics all his life and he continues to make this project his focus because at this point “I’ve gotten so carried away and gone overboard with the investment I can’t turn back now.”

At night he keeps the lights off in the front of his house so he can see the cars out front. He gets about 1/2 dozen cars a night, he senses there are more visitors each year.

Bill starts installing the project in October and it runs nightly from 5pm to 10:30pm on weekends and nightly 5-9:30 during the week. Bill will have the show running on New Years Eve and through the first week of January.

Show runs rain, snow or mud!

Tune your FM radio to 87.9 FM to hear the music.

Visitors should not block the main road, keep your radios at a reasonable level, and please turn off your headlights so that everyone can enjoy the show.

Lights are running 6-9:30pm Monday-Friday and 6-10:30pm on Saturday and Sunday nights. Random Lights run from 5pm – 6pm. The lights will be up and running late night on New Years Eve so hop on the LIttle Bus and make a stop at the Long Lake Lights.

For more information about the Long Lake Lights or upcoming events call 518-624-3077.