Christmas lights enthusiast explains what it takes

Christmas lights enthusiast explains what it takes

Cars line up outside and gawk at the gaudiness of his front yard. Right off of Gammon Road on Madison’s west side, the Christmas spirit is nearly impossible to miss. And that’s exactly how Patrick Delaney likes it.

“There’s not a lot of us doing it around here, but that’s good. I like to be the one,” Delaney said.

It all started five years ago, one seemingly innocent night when Delaney decided to stay in. He was bored and began the dangerous task of surfing the web. He came across a YouTube clip of a house with synchronized lights and music. Before Delaney logged off that night, he had bought his first strings of lights.

“It’ll be a cool toy to play with because I’m kind of like a tinkerer,” Delaney said. “So I did that, I order it, and I got hooked.”

With his new addiction, Delaney added new elements and detail each and every season, even adding an entire display for Halloween.

“You have thousands of possibilities for colors and programming, so it’s become quite an adventure,” Delaney said.

That adventure is controlled from a corner inside Delaney’s house. Zip ties hold the creation together, one that is almost entirely do-it-yourself, built with his imagination and that “tinkering” mind of his.

Delaney has even made it an annual tradition to go to Christmas light conventions and conferences.

“It’s my Comi-Con,” Delaney said.

After that, he spends 80 to 120 hours assembling and programming all of the 24,082 lights. Each bulb can be choreographed to music, songs Delaney plays on his own FM channel.

“It’s going to be better as time goes on. I’m going to be tweaking and adding and probably not removing, but fixing things that I did not see when we were doing the original sequencing,” Delaney said.

Even though the display can’t be missed from his neighbors’ windows, all of them have given their blessing. So far, Delaney said there have been no complaints. In fact, he’s been given anonymous thank you notes and been offered cookies.

And thank goodness because it is quite an investment.

“Luckily, I don’t have to account to anyone but myself, but I’m over $9,000 and I was at $8,000 last year,” Delaney said.

Delaney doesn’t ask for any money or donations, but the reactions can be priceless.

“The thing I like is the look on kids’ faces,” Delaney said.

He gets plenty of those looks as cars pull up and stick around to soak in the holiday cheer.

“That’ll be a sad day, taking it all down,” Delaney said.

Delaney’s lights display is free and open to the public on Colony Drive every night during the holidays.