See the Lights
Meet the Holiday Home-Glower
With animated lights, music, and even "snow drifts" from their roof, Greg and Loretta Zimmerman (pictured left) have been delighting Balboa Island residents in Newport Beach, Calif., for more than a decade. Greg was happy to share more about their jubilant display, which they've dubbed "Walking in a Wired Wonderland."
Our interview with Greg Zimmerman:
First, the two questions everyone asks: Approximately how many lights are in your display? And how long does it take you to put them up?
There are 25,871 light bulbs (14,000 watts of power) mostly in the shapes of Christmas motifs, 96 computer channels, three picture projectors, two "snow" machines, two laser lights and plenty of animation, in addition to the computerized light show, which is synchronized to the Christmas music. It takes approximately three weeks of full-time work to set up the display, as I do it all myself. The design and build process is a year long process which has become a hobby of mine.
How many years having you been putting up your display? How did it become a tradition?
This year, 2012, will be our 12th year providing the display. Last year visitors came not only from our city and surrounding communities, but also from 27 different countries from around the world. The display has won numerous awards over the past 10 years including "Best Animation" and "Photographer's Choice" from the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Commodore's Club for the Christmas Boat Parade. It has been featured in several newspapers, written up in many magazines, won as a finalist in a national Christmas lights decorating contest, and has been shown on a national PBS television Christmas decorating special.
What's your favorite part of your display or what are you most proud of?
I'm very proud of the fact that I do the display myself, and my family joins in when needed, especially for the take-down. [For] most displays of this magnitude people hire companies to do the work.
Many parts of the display I make by hand. Visitors frequently say "I haven't seen anything like that before," and that's because it's one of a kind. That's why so many people come back year after year now. It's a tradition to see what is new each year, and everyone has a favorite part of the display, whether it is the virtual Santa, the computerized light show, the falling snow, or just the general merriment!
If you were to dedicate your display to anyone or thank anyone, who would it be?
I'd dedicate it to my family -- my wife and five children. Christmas has always been a big thing in our household, and they are the reason the display started and turned our house into an annual destination for so many people.
I am grateful for the opportunity to make so many people happy during the Christmas holidays, over 22,000 people who visit on foot each year. There is a great deal of satisfaction to hear all of the appreciative comments and see the sheer delight in the faces of young and old alike. It makes all of the hard work worthwhile and inspires me to do more each year.
And just for fun... What's your favorite holiday movie and song? And is there any one celebrity you'd like to meet?
My favorite holiday song is Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You". I would like to meet Mariah because her song is beautiful and sequences extremely well to our Christmas lights. My favorite holiday movie is 'Christmas Vacation', and I have been called Clark Griswold more than once!