Even Clark Griswold of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fame would be impressed with Timothy Gay’s family holiday lights display. Begun in 1995 with just 600 lights, the Gays now hold the world record for most lights on a residential property — 346,283. But why stop there? This holiday season, they’ll cover their 1.7 acres in Lagrangeville with close to 400,000 bulbs.
A whopping 1,000 channels control the twinkling display, named “ERDAJT” — a combination of the Gay children’s initials. Among the more elaborate attractions: blinking light circles that appear to leap through the air; a 12-foot heart that changes color; and a full moon that reshapes itself into a crescent. Gay is particularly excited about this season’s addition of 40 RGB flood lights. These LED bulbs use combinations of reds, greens, and blues to create additional colors; the Gays use them as strobe lights on their house.
Naturally, such an elaborate undertaking attracts attention. The display has appeared on two reality TV shows, and three young men have proposed to their girlfriends amid the sparkle (all got a “yes” when they popped the question). Although Gay doesn’t keep track of how many visitors the site attracts each December, he estimates it’s somewhere in the tens of thousands. In previous years, the line of cars waiting to drive past the display has stretched for more than three miles. While the electric bill is high, the Gays don’t charge a fee to see the property; donations are accepted and forwarded to charities, including the Union Vale Fire Department and the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie; in 2012, they collected close to $37,000. “It’s our gift to the community, and it wouldn’t be a gift if we accepted anything,” says Gay.
ERDAJT runs through December 29 from 4:50-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (8 Patrick Dr., Lagrangeville; www.erdajt.com). See below for videos of past displays.
Can’t get enough animated lights?
Check out the Castle Fun Center in Chester. Warwick-based Mike Baier Designs built a 15-minute show with 100,000 lights, four miles of wiring, and an animatronic snowman who acts as host. All donations benefit the Brian Ahearn Children’s Fund, a program that assists underprivileged children in Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan counties. For more information, visit www.thecastlefuncenter.com.