Brad Paulsen has always loved Christmas — evident by the elaborate light display he has created at his parents’ home in Bel Air.
His show features more than 45,000 lights at their house at 1722 Edwin Drive. This year’s display features a new special effect — fog machines, he said on his Facebook page.
Paulsen’s is one of several Christmas light shows set to music throughout the county.
Not too far from Paulsen’s show is the Kurtz home, where Jim Kurtz first set Christmas lights to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” in 2012.
You can’t miss the light display at St. Matthew Lutheran Church on Route 22 in Bel Air, where thousands of lights are synchronized to music.
And in Abingdon, Duane Stevens lights up his home with about 10,000 lights.
Brad’s Christmas Light Show
Paulsen, 23, has been doing the light show for six years.
“I’ve put up lights all my life,” Paulsen said. “I always wanted to do a lot of lights and make a show about it.”
He started with an auto-light system but now uses Light-a-rama. The show lasts about 15 minutes.
For the fourth straight year, Paulsen is collecting donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
He’s raised about $3,000 the last three years.
“This year I hope to do more than that,” he said.
In just the first weekend of the light show, Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, he collected more than $1,000.
His father, Ed Paulsen, enjoys watching his son’s efforts.
“He’s always loved Christmas,” Ed Paulsen said.
Duane Stevens is in his 12th year of doing a Christmas display at his home at 3112 Laurel View Drive in Abingdon.
He started in 2007 after his wife saw a commercial on TV that featured synchronized lights to music.
“She said to me ‘You aren't a real electrical engineer if you can't do that,’ ” Stevens said. “Being an electrical engineer from Purdue University, I took that as a challenge.”
The first display was small but it grew from there.
Over the years, the yard has gotten fuller and Stevens is running out of room to expand. He’s up to about 10,000 lights, he said.
The choreography of lights to music is done through hardware and software from a company called Light-O-Rama. It takes him from two to six hours to program one minute of a song, he said.
While the programming is more creative than technical, setting up and maintaining the hardware requires a basic understanding of electricity and computer communication.
“I can't say that I have a favorite element of the display as I like all of them, However, I am proud of the sequencing (programming) of the lights to the music,” he said.
Stevens’ daughter, 23, recruits her friends to help put up the display each year.
“It has become a tradition for them,” he said.
Two to three cars at a time sit and watch the display, he said, and the busiest nights are on the weekends.
Kurtz Christmas lights
Since the Kurtzes started a display at their home at 1205 Corinthian Court in Bel Air in 2012, they have expanded their lights to neighbors’ yards and added a 20-foot pixel tree for animated effects.
The more than 20,000 LED lights are controlled wirelessly from a laptop in the family’s dining room. This year, a nearly 50-foot pine tree is completely covered in the large, old-fashioned bulbs.
“It is amazingly beautiful and so tall you can see the top of it from Starbucks at routes 543 and 22,” Kurtz said in a news release announcing the return of their show
This year, the Kurtzes have some new light sequences (Greatest Show) and kept plenty of the old favorites: Christmas Vacation, Minions, Star Wars and Nutcracker (Dubstep style).
“We think there is something for everyone and you will leave with a smile on your face,” Kurtz said.
In 2015, the family began using the show to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic by dedicating songs to their daughter, Caroline, and her recovery from this disease she continues to struggle with. They continue their efforts this year with this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd0X_jXiTGk&t=1s