Lighting up Eudora
Christmas decorating becomes a family affair each year for the Hall clan.
This year, the family weathered strong winds to create a prize-winning outside spectacle. The family earned the $100 top prize in the annual Eudora Chamber of Commerce Light Up Eudora contest.
"A lot of the inspiration was my kids," Denny Hall said. "They have been very interested in displays, ever since they were old enough to realize what Christmas was all about."
The inspiration this year came in the form of a sprawling display featuring more than 10,000 lights.
The Halls built the display around their horseshoe shaped driveway at 1123 East 2300 Road. The family incorporated classic Christmas music playing to rhythmically changing lights this year.
Last year, Denny saw a similar house on the Internet hooked up with the musical lights and it gave him an idea.
"We thought it would be neat if we could do something like that," he said. "I came across one controller in one of the catalogs that had six different zones so you can have controls on the lights and it plays music as well."
The synced display joined a nativity scene and inflatable Christmas decorations on the lawn at their residence.
The innovation added to last year's addition ---- a Santa sleigh with nine-foot-tall reindeer.
The family began the sled project in February 2005 and didn't finish it until that fall.
Hall's then 11-year-old triplets,
Christopher, Katie and Jimmy, celebrated the finished sled.
"They were really excited," Denny said. "I have pictures of them painting it and pictures of them sitting in it."
To properly configure the added lights and controller for this year's display, Hall said he became an amateur electrician. He had to measure all the wattages to make sure the display wouldn't overload. It made for nervousness the moment before he first flipped the switch, he said.
"It was really 'a thank goodness it all works' moment," he said. "I am not an electrician and I was doing these wattage calculations and just reading the package and all."
He was specifically unsure of the limits of the music controller, he said. In the end, it all lit up normally.
"It was definitely was an 'aww,' moment when it all worked," Hall said. "Especially when we all stood in the road and looked at it."
The lighting marked the end of three weeks worth of preparation.
"The wife (Jean) put up a lot of the stuff on the inside and the kids helped me in the yard with the actual placing of the different lights displays and all," he said. "Jean put down all the stakes on the sides of the drive for all those white lights on the inside of the driveway."
The family built the manger scene together, Denny said.
The family finished the project despite an early snag when a gust of wind knocked over the sleigh and broke one of the wooden reindeer's legs.
Each family member has a favorite part of this year's display.
Jean particularly liked one of the family projects.
"I really like what he did with the manger this year and the star on the flagpole," she said. "I personally like all the lights on the driveway since I put those up."
Christopher said he liked putting the lights on the trees. He's also fond of the snowman in the blue scarf, he said.
For Katie, it was the flashing lights.
Jimmy was proud of the penguins, he said.
Denny likes it all.
"I think it's great. I think this is the best we've had this year," Denny said. "I think it's been a fun project. It's been a lot of work, but it has been fun. "
The Halls run their lights from dusk (usually 5 p.m.) until about 9 p.m., he said.
To get the Halls' home, go south on Church Street for two miles past the K-10 interchange. Turn left off Church Street onto 1100 Road. Continue east on 1100 Road for one mile to a four-way stop. Turn left onto 2300 Road. Travel north on 2300 Road. At 0.23 miles from the intersection, you will make a left turn into the Halls' north driveway.
Enter the north driveway at 1123 East 2300 Road and drive slowly around the horseshoe shaped driveway, exiting back onto 2300 Road. While making the drive, turn off the car radio and listen carefully for the music; noting the six different sets of lights inside the circle drive flashing in time to the music. Also, observe the hand-made sleigh and nine reindeer. The sleigh is eight feet long and each reindeer stands nine feet tall at their highest point.