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Bluff Park Holiday House: New Tradition Brings Smiles to Locals

 By Heather , Bluffparkal.org  heather@bluffparkal.org  


With to many strings of lights to count Michael Johnson transforms his Bluff Park home and yard into a joyful, animated show with twinkling and sparkling lights choreographed to songs of the season. "It did not start out being like this,” Johnson remembers. "It was just something interesting to do that has grown over the years."

Three years ago the self-professed “tech nerd”, started with a six channel “Mr. Christmas” pre-programmed with six to eight songs and a speaker built-in that sat in his front yard. He upgraded to a “Light-O-Rama” and was hooked on large scale Christmas displays for the future!

"Each unit of the ‘Light-O-Rama’ has 16 channels and a computer program that you import your music into," Johnson explains. "After importing, you then program all of it.” The computer controls both the lights and the music.


  Video ©2014BluffParkAL.org

Programming and physical labor is just all part of creating the show. "I start with the roof, then the windows and columns”, Johnson says. He then figures out what goes where in the yard like a blueprint - an outline of wires and lights. "Once the majority of the display is up, I start adding things and have been known to continue to add items right up to Christmas," Johnson says.

The first years Johnson started putting up almost everything for his animated display the day after Thanksgiving. Now, since the display’s size has grown, Johnson starts working on the display right after Halloween. With a flip of a switch on or around the week after Thanksgiving the show is ready to go.

It is a growing tradition for many families in Bluff Park to drive down Rockview Lane (2205 Rockview Lane) to see Michael Johnson's creation. He even places a low wattage FM transmitter just inside the house so people within a block or two can tune in to the audio for the show via 95.1 FM. Once the show starts it repeats throughout the night.

©2014BluffParkAL.org   ©2014BluffParkAL.org

Music for the display consists of upbeat Christmas songs and traditional carols. "I mostly enjoy the upbeat songs because they make the show much more exciting. It is hard to do slow, traditional Christmas songs. People tend to drive off during those, but they are in there,” Johnson explains. One favorite part of the children is the Grinch in the window. The songs and animation are a project of their own. From beginning to end, each song takes 8 to 12 hours to program.

The community is grateful and supportive of the Bluff Park Holiday House. The Johnson's get letters in their mailbox thanking them for the lights. It is the kind notes and people stopping by that make it all worth the work. "People stop and knock on the door to say thank you. I just enjoy building things and seeing the result bring happiness and joy to others,” Johnson says.

©2014BluffParkAL.org   ©2014BluffParkAL.org

Six to eight cars are all the street can handle at once so motorists wanting to stop and enjoy the show will have to move through the street with caution. On Christmas Eve last year (2013) there were around 200-250 cars that came by throughout the night.

This year there are added strobe lights, more lights for the green tree, two ten feet/eight channel arches, a 12 foot/eight channel spiral tree, and a three channel 18 inch spinning star on top of the spiral tree. "I also hope to add more this year that will show the celebration of Christ’s birth. That is the real meaning of Christmas”, says Johnson.

The display is now a tradition in the Johnson home. "I have mentioned not doing it before and was informed that I could not do that! So as long as I'm healthy enough to do it, I guess I'll keep going!” Johnson says.




www.BluffParkAl.org interview with Michael Johnson, owner Bluff Park Holiday House.

Video and photographs ©2014 BluffParkAL.org - All Rights Reserved

*Mr. Christmas





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