By Saul Israel,
As the clock strikes 6:30 p.m., a beige ranch-style house in West Davis transforms into a display of hundreds of colorful Christmas lights. Cars begin to line the streets to watch the show. Multi-color strings of lights in the shape of Christmas trees, stars and icicles begin to flash to the sound of the music.
The man behind the holiday light show is Carson Wilcox, a Davis local who spends his Christmas season setting up a light show.
Wilcox first started building light shows when he was a teenager growing up in Davis. After graduating from UC Davis, he continued the tradition at his house in West Sacramento.
Since moving back to Davis, Wilcox has added music to the show. The music has been a part of the show for the last eight years, and is one of the most complex elements. As the show evolved, Wilcox moved away from what he had done as a teenager, when he put as many lights on the house as possible.
“I felt it lacked interest…I added the pixel elements a few years ago,” Wilcox said.
The pixel elements allow Wilcox to display images such as Santa’s sleigh, menorahs or pac-man.
As the size of the display and the complexity of the show increases so does the cost and set up time.
“The programming of the lights to the music takes the longest time . . . it is hours per song,” Wilcox said.
Through the programming of the lights, he can determine which section of lights flash to a corresponding part of a song. By tuning into a particular radio station, show goers can hear Christmas music, which the lights accompany.
The price to build the show puts its size into context. He estimates the total price of the show to be a few thousand dollars, and he spends $500 to $1000 each year to make updates to the show.
From the time the show starts at 6:30, many cars cycle in and out each evening to watch the show. One of those is the family of sophomore Tate Cutler.
“We stop by every year to see what new has been added . . . it is a tradition,” Cutler said.
For others this is their first time seeing the show.
“One of my friends recommended coming to see it… it is really cool, I wasn’t expecting such a large display,” said Jack Allen, a UC Davis student who stopped by to watch the show.
Wilcox hopes his show will encourage other houses to build large light displays.
“I feel like compared to when I was a tyke the amount of lit houses has drastically dropped… so I hope to make a dent.” Wilcox said.
His show may have inspired other families. On his street several houses also have Christmas light decorations such as giant wreaths or trees covered in shiny ornaments and bright lights.
For Wilcox seeing people enjoy the show is worth the cost and time he spends setting it up.
“I just enjoy it. I love coming home and finding kids dancing in front of my house.” Wilcox said.