Cambridge resident David Baker’s Christmas display has garnered a fair amount of attention in the last couple of years.
Baker, who has been putting on a light show for about a decade, said he was originally inspired to create the display after watching the TLC show The Great Christmas Light Fight.
“I watched that a very long time ago and thought, ‘Hey, I could probably try this,’” Baker said.
“It started with this little tiny box that has six channels and there was like, a couple hundred lights. Since then it’s grown significantly. I think we’re somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30,000 lights and a bunch of different control boxes.”
The light display at his home is synced to Christmas music and connected to an FM transmitter which allows for passing cars to tune in. In 2018, the display was shut down by the federal government after they reported that his FM transmitter was interfering with aircraft communications.
“They came in and shut it down, at no fault of their own. Everyone’s got a job to do in this world,” Baker said, who has since obtained a federally-approved transmitter.
“I reached out to them last year, and they were super helpful. I just asked if the new transmitter would be okay, and it was approved and they were super helpful in helping me find a new one that would kind of work,” Baker said.
Despite the help, Baker admits it wasn’t as good last year, so he purchased equipment to allow him to move it closer to the road. “I think they’re okay with it. I invited them over to come watch it with their families, so I try to stay on good terms with the federal government.”
Baker is able to coordinate his display using a software program.
“I’ve been using that for a number of years, and then basically there’s a computer that runs it all and then it transmits through a network to all the different control boxes,” Baker said.
“[The lights] are all just networked together and then they’re powered. So each one of those control boxes has its own independent power supply which controls all the brightness,” he added.
Setting up the display is “constantly a work-in-progress,” Baker said. He usually starts testing the lights indoors in September and outdoor set-up typically begins between October and November.
While the federal government may have had issues with his display in the past, Baker said his neighbours take little issue with it.
“Both my neighbours sold last year, which, maybe that should tell me something,” Baker joked.
“Most of the neighbours around me, they’re just as crazy as I am for Christmas. The neighbours right beside me said they bought the house knowing of this Christmas display. So I feel like everyone’s okay with it, or at least that’s what they’re telling me,” Baker said.
Baker said his display has drawn more attention since being shut down by the federal government.
“It’s pretty busy each night. If I had to put an estimate — I couldn’t even …but you know, there’s been a couple of nights where we’ve seen buses out there in the past.”
This year with COVID-19 restrictions, it might prove to be a good socially-distanced winter activity.
“I’ve had quite a few people leave notes and tell me stories about coming out with their family. So that kind of makes it all worthwhile. It’s a fun project to try and tackle,” he said.
The display also has a philanthropic element to it. Visitors can scan a 3-D barcode with their smartphones that takes them directly to the donation page for House of Friendship, a local non-profit that provides food, housing, addiction treatment and neighbourhood support to individuals and families.
“Everyone deserves a Merry Christmas, so if we can bring a little bit more cheer to people, then we’re doing our job,” Baker said.
Alyssa is the Editor-in-Chief of The Cord. She is finishing up her final semester in Laurier’s Faculty of Arts, as an English major and Global Studies minor. Alyssa likes pants more than shirts and thinks everyone looks good with a nose piercing.