Dancing Lights Shimmer In Auburn Hills Street

By Brian Figurski

With Christmas here, metro Detroit locales are finalizing their festive displays to celebrate the season.

Brent Waldrep has been ready all year.

Waldrep turns his home into a twinkling light show in November that drapes Auburn Hills in an aura of colors through the New Year.

A 20-year veteran of light displays, Waldrep decided to take his static show up a level when he relocated to his current house five year ago.

“Basic light displays are nice, but you can only look at it for a minute or two before it gets boring,” Waldrep said. “I wanted to do something that would get people to really watch a display and bring smiles to them.”

Viewers are instructed to tune their radios to a frequency broadcast from Waldrep’s home, sit back and watch the 43,000 lights sync up to Christmas music in a roughly 45 minute set list, no easy feat to single-handedly set up.

Combined with the tedious task of programming each of the 160-plus channels to flash and flicker on cue, Waldrep works hard to bring his inanimate objects to life.

“It takes about three to four weeks to set up the lights and I use Light-O-Rama on the computer to run different electrical controllers around the yard,” Waldrep said. “Depending on how complex you want to get, it can take anywhere up to eight hours or so for every one minute of show time, so you are constantly listening to Christmas music year round.

After the initial investment of all the lights, a numerical figure gladly forgotten (“I don’t think I want to know how much money I’ve actually spent,” Waldrep said), the electric bill isn’t nearly as steep as the display tree in the front yard.

“(The electric bill) goes up about 40 or 50 dollars for the month, mainly because half the display is LEDs which don’t use any power and everything flashes, there’s very little power drawn simultaneously.”

It would be easy to pocket the donations from spectators, but keeping in the holiday spirit Waldrep has partnered with the Rainbow Connection in Rochester, an organization dedicated to assisting children stricken with life-threatening illnesses.

“We were really surprised with how much we raised last year,” Waldrep said. “We did just over $1,500 and hopefully we can beat that this year.”

Neighbors to Waldrep are fans of his efforts to spread Christmas cheer and the celestial glow dancing through the windows every evening, along with majority of the patrons who have trekked out to see his unique masterpiece.

“Last year I had a computer crash in the middle of the show and I was running through the house to get everything working; a few people had posted nasty things online,” Waldrep said.“The whole reason I do this is to bring happiness to everyone, and I think some people kind of forget that.

From the realms of his house on the cul-de-sac, Waldrep has done just that annually for viewers and now, with the help of the Rainbow Connection, sickly children in the area.

For show times and locations, log on to OurDancingLights.com