Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice: Lake County
The Daily Herald Holiday Lights Editor's Choice winner for Lake County is Patrick Fitzgibbons, 25910 Tahoe Court, Mundelein.
Editor's Choice winners each will receive a $50 Ala Carte Entertainment gift card.
The Daily Herald asked Fitzgibbons about his display.
Q: How long have you been decorating your house like this?
A: Since we moved here in 2011. The first couple of years it was just lights on the house (as much as I could do over Thanksgiving weekend). About seven years ago, we started a Christmas lights budget each year, and that's when things started getting bigger.
Q: What inspired you to take it to the level you have?
A: It was really a combination of things. We hosted Christmas for our extended families in 2015 and I wanted to do something special for everyone. That sparked my passion, but what I didn't expect was to receive letters, notes and cards from people visiting the display. Their stories and messages have been the inspiration for us to go bigger every year.
Q: Explain the process of putting up your display.
A: It's a four-part system to get our display up and running; 1. Planning; 2. Construction; 3. Sequencing; 4. Installation.
As soon as our current display is up, we begin planning next year's changes to the decor (we've already made several revisions to a plan for next year). This allows me to buy any lighting we need in January and February when everything is on clearance.
I take off most of the spring after taking everything down and then construction begins in May/June, with the first lights going up around Labor Day (though it was the first week of August this year due to nice weather).
This year's display took about 100 hours of setup time, with roughly 200 hours behind the scenes building, testing, sequencing and planning over the past six months. We go top to bottom with our display; anything requiring a lift or tall ladders gets done first, as you never know when the weather will turn.
The ground level pieces get done last, as they can be done in nearly any weather conditions -- of which November tends to provide a wide variety.
Q: How many total lights and/or lawn displays do you have?
A: Our display this year has about 50,000 lights and 5,500 RGB pixels. Included in that are 12 snowflakes, four spiral trees, two paw prints and four "animals" this year. We keep about 30,000 lights and five to seven other display pieces in storage each year so we can change colors and the layout every year to keep the look fresh.
Q: How much does your electric bill spike in December?
A: Surprisingly not much; $7-$15 a month is typical. Everything is LED, and with all the flashing on and off there's not a lot of time for the lights to draw extensive amounts of power.
Q: What do your neighbors think of your display?
A: I used to worry a lot about bothering our neighbors with all the lights flashing and the increased traffic, (but) when we found out they're some of our biggest supporters it just made it that much more special. Our goal has always been to make people smile, and knowing that our neighbors are enjoying it as well is exceptional.