Potomac Edison line worker goes 'full tilt' for Christmas

There are more than 30,000 lights on Les Spade's property this year

December 30, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • This year, there are more than 30,000 lights on Les Spade's property at 11507 Greenberry Road in Halfway.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HALFWAY — Les Spade's holiday decorating extravaganza is highlighted by a 35-foot-tall "Christmas tree" that twinkles in the horizon as motorists drive up Greenberry Road.

There's another 33-foot lighted tree form in the front yard, a line of candy canes in front of the house and smaller lighted trees at the side of the house.

But to get the real effect of Spade's creation in the Greenberry Hills neighborhood, you have to tune your radio to 102.3 FM.

That's when you will hear holiday tunes synchronized to the flashing lights on the displays on the property.

The synchronized music is made possible by an FM transmitter,  the biggest one Spade could buy without having to get a Federal Communications Commission license.

A lighted sign in the front yard gives instructions to passersby on how to find the station, which transmits a signal about 200 feet from Spade's house.

Spade, who is a line worker for Potomac Edison, said he has been building elaborate holiday light displays at his house off Virginia Avenue for about seven years.

But he said this one — created by using strands of lights to form the shapes of the trees — is the most extensive.

To operate the show, Spade said he purchased a system designed by Light-O-Rama, a company that sells equipment to help homeowners build "world-class light shows," according to its website.

Spade's design involves an MP3 player that is installed in an electrical box in the front yard. Wires wind out of the box, and hundreds of feet of extension cords are draped across the front yard.

Spade has various "controllers" that are in other boxes and under the 33-foot tree. It takes 10 amps of power to operate the system — about half the power used in a typical house, he said.

Some people may consider the creation a little over the top, but to Spade, it's his way of celebrating Christmas.

"Best way to explain it is, you either go full tilt, or you don't do it at all," he said.

Last year, Spade said he used a smaller self-contained unit to operate his light display, but the creation was a bit too big for the system.

"It melted her out," he said.

This year, there are more than 30,000 lights on Spade's property. More than 22,000 of those lights — 64 strings of lights coming straight down from the top and another 64 strands that create a spiral design — are used to form the 33-foot tree.

The tree is made from a 36-foot tall flag pole. The base of the tree, to which the lights are connected, is a large steel rim at the bottom of the flag pole.

The tree in the back is also shaped using strings of hanging lights.

A giant lighted cross is also anchored to a tower behind Spade's house.

"Next year, we'll probably double this," Spade said.

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