If the night sky’s a little brighter this winter, you can thank the Gay family of Lagrangeville. On Friday, November 28, the troupe of five — which includes Timothy and Grace Gay and their three children — once again reclaimed the Guinness Book of World Records title for “Most Lights on a Residential Property” with their ERDAJT display. (In case you’re wondering, ERDAJT stands for the initials of their three children: Emily Raejean, Daniel Arthur, and John Timothy.)
Read more: ERDAJT hopes for world record in 2013
This spectacular show began in 1995 — with a modest 600 lights — to mark the birth of their eldest, Emily. In an effort to “make the holidays magical for his kids,” Timothy started to think bigger each year. Today, the 1.7-acre property can be seen from miles away with the help of about 600,000 lights (601,736, to be exact).
That’s one hefty electric bill. Thankfully, efficient LEDs keep the cost to roughly $350 per year. So why do it? Not just a fun community project, the Gay family accepts donations to support various local charities. In 2012, they raised more than $37,000 for the Union Vale Fire Department and the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie. (Donations are entirely voluntary; there is no fee to drive through the display itself.)
The family also has its own radio channel that synchronizes the immense amount of lights with more than 1,000 Christmas classics and other popular songs. (The process of linking the lights with music takes anywhere between five and 30 hours to complete, depending on the lengths of each song.) “City of Blinding Lights,” a song by U2, inspired the family to start animating their display. This song is played first each night.
This year’s show features about 1,450 strobe lights, two leaping trees, a colored meteor shower tree, and many other twinkling LED elements. The massive display requires more than eight miles of extension cords and about 34 miles of wire. The family estimates that they have used more than 2,000 extension cords.
Setting world records doesn’t come without a little friendly competition, however. Last year, David Richards of Canberra, Australia won the title with 502,165 bulbs — about 100,000 more lights than the ERDAJT display. A generous, 200,000-light donation by RITZ Crackers helped the Gay family edge out the competition. (One part of RITZ’s donation even included a gigantic electric hashtag spelling out #TOPTHAT.)
ERDAJT is located at 8 Patrick Drive in Lagrangeville. The display runs November 28 to December 30 from 4:50-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information regarding the music schedule, visit www.erdajt.com.
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