Bitten by the Bug
Growing up, we had an annual tradition at Christmas to go view a large display on the Southside of Milwaukee. I thought this display was awesome! It had a lot of lights and animated displays, I would always ask my mom and dad if we could do that to our house. Their normal response was always "that costs a lot of money, which we don't have but when you get older you can do whatever you want!" As the years went on, the annual tradition stopped but my love for Christmas was everlasting!
Our home was a simple cape cod with a gutter line and a peak for the front of the house which was lined with C9 Christmas bulbs for the holidays. Every November my dad would unpack the lights, get the ladder out and gingerly put the lights on the house hoping not to break any of the bulbs. After my parents divorced, it was up to me to put up the Christmas lights and every year I would try to add one more thing to the yard with the money I made delivering newspapers.
Once moving out on my own, I could only do so much decorating because of living in an apartment. I would decorate my Christmas tree and decorate my door but that was about the extent until I moved into an apartment complex where they had annual Christmas decorating contests and the grand prize was a month of free rent. I was in heaven and out of the four years at the complex, won the grand prize twice - what a great feeling!
As time went on, I would add decorations here and there but the decorating bug did not bite me until April 2001 when I met my partner and we purchased our first home together in Kewaskum, WI. Our home had several gutter lines on the sides of the house with a peak in the front and we decided to line everything with white icicle lights and line the windows with white incandescent lights.
Stringing the lights on the house took some time but in the end it was well worth the effort! I remember our electric bill that first year, it was about $600 for the month of November and December, that was about $550 more than normal! We continued to add more to the display and the front and side yards were packed with all the decorations we collected over the next several years.
I was searching around the Internet and found a company that made equipment for Christmas displays. The equipment made the lights in the display dance to music and I wanted to take the display to the next level. My knowledge of computers and my passion for decorating allowed me to begin programming a mega tree to my favorite Christmas songs. I started off with one controller and added two more the following year.
In 2009, we sold the house in Kewaskum and moved to our current location where I had a much larger yard to decorate. Although it seemed like we started over, the first year we could only put up the mega tree and outline the house with new LED lights I found at Costco. The following summer we upgraded our electric box and added a new 100-amp sub panel in the garage to power nine 20-amp outlets throughout the front yard.
The new home had three beautiful evergreen trees in the front and we decided to decorate the trees with 5,000 Christmas lights. In order to get the lights on the trees, we borrowed a scissor lift from a friend and spent three weekends placing lights on the three trees. The lighted trees were spectacular that year but we lost most of the lights during the December due to high winds and lots of snow. That was the only year we decorated those trees and in 2015 two of the three trees were removed due to disease.
Over the years we added more lights to the display and in 2015 met a fellow decorator who introduced me to a whole new world of DMX. This would take the display to the next level as the house would be outlined with smart LED pixels. I am able to control each LED pixel individually and create any color I could dream up. Armed with new technology, we decided to rename the display from Cedarburg Lights to Konzal's Crazy Christmas Lights.