Many people spread Christmas cheer in a variety of ways: Christmas cards, trees, etc. One man in The Falls neighborhood of Anna, starts with his front yard.
Todd Engels has a massive Christmas display in his front yard. The exhibit, which was started in 2009 with some decorations, gets something added to it annually. This year, 15 snowflakes, a countdown to Christmas and a virtual Santa for the second story window were added.
The array of lights and strings is made up of 25,000 lights and two miles of extension cord. The entire show is operated by the main computer inside the house and four weatherproof computers strategically placed in the yard. The 20-foot Christmas tree has 5,000 lights on it and the singing Santa, hanging above his garage door, has 1,500 lights.
You might think that Engels must be an engineer to pull off this type of feat, but that is not the case. Engels, a real estate agent, is just a guy that takes on this annual arduous task to spread Christmas cheer throughout his neighborhood. Engels is also eco-friendly, making sure that all the lights are LED — making it easier on the electric bill, too.
Engels starts putting up the lights Nov. 1, working 8-10 hour days, to have the display functioning for the public the Friday after Thanksgiving. The many strands of lights are put up first, making it easier to set up the timing on the computers. The hardest part to coordinate is the bedazzling arches at the edge of his lawn. They contain 16 different strands of lights. If one of those strands are out of order, then it messes up the cohesiveness of the display.
The homeowner also provides a mailbox for Santa letters, and every single letter gets a personal letter from Saint Nick. Engels also furnishes a drop box for donations to “Pay it Forward” charity, a nonprofit organization out of Anna.
A deluge of cars and people pass by the house on a nightly basis; some knock on the door to be able to talk to the creator of the amazing Christmas art. Spectators can set their radios on FM 89.1 to hear the music that the lights are synchronized to play.
Engels does not consider what he does work. He says he genuinely enjoys putting on this annual display.
“I do it for the Christmas spirit,” Engels said. “I do it for families, and something fun for the community.”