You might say Mikel Draghici experienced a light bulb moment when visions of sugarplums and thousands of pixels danced in his head. He made his dream a reality in 2012 when he launched his first “Kentlands Christmas” light display at his home at 202 Little Quarry Road. He’s been illuminating the holidays for public consumption ever since.
Seeing is believing on Saturday, Nov. 24 from 7 to 7:30 p.m. when he flips the switch at the preview lighting ceremony for his seventh annual holiday show. Draghici will don a Santa suit for the preview where hot chocolate and cookies will be served.
This season more than 2,600 pixels, 10 floodlights and 17,000 lights will dance to a steady stream of songs. Draghici characterizes his musical selections as “neo and traditional Christmas music” with titles such as “Last Christmas,” “Winter Dream,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Wizards in Winter,” and “Jingle Bells,” among others. There are 10 songs in the 28-minute sets, which repeat during the show that runs from 6 to 9 p.m., Dec. 1 through Jan. 5. In addition to the speakers in his front yard, he’s broadcasting the music on 87.9 FM.
His next door neighbor, David Fishback, has watched Draghici’s show grow over the years with “bits and pieces” added. “It’s interesting the things Mikel has done with the simulcast radio signal and the synchronized lights with the music,” said Fishback. “We’re looking forward to seeing how he has programmed the new types of lights for this year.”
“Christmas displays need a few items to make the magic happen,” said Draghici. His computer control center runs the software that instructs the remote controllers to allow or restrict electrical current to turn on, turn off, dim or change the color of the lights. He uses a laptop that runs his Vixen lights software. “In the app, I program all of the lights to dance and twinkle as I feel would be entertaining,” he explained. In the past, each song took him 10 to 15 hours to program.
With the addition of the RGB LED lights, programming has increased by 25 percent. RGB LED products combine the colors red, green and blue to produce over 16 million hues of light. Draghici has six Renard controllers, one Falcon controller, and two power supplies outside. He said the Renards control the incandescent lights and the Falcon drives both the Renard controllers and the RGB LED lights. “This year I have added over 1,700 pixels and they include the outline of the house, the banister, wreath and icicles,” noted Draghici.
Dubbed “Mr. Christmas” several years ago as a nod to his home’s festive façade, Draghici said it took him “a year to ramp up” for his first display. He is perpetually creating and developing new items to add to the next year’s display. “I typically start my designs and ideas in January after the show,” he said.
With so many more lights to mount this year, he had many in place in time for Halloween where they danced to spooky songs including “Monster Mash” and “Ghostbusters.”
He can be spotted placing some lights “during a 30-minute lunch break or between dinner and bedtime. Then, on the weekends I am out in full force,” he said. His 16-year old son Brandon assists “on some items, and my father, Simeon, may pitch in by holding the ladder steady,” he explained.
His home is not the only thing that is lit up. He said one of the “many perks, is seeing the faces of the kids and parents light up” as they view the spectacular spectacle. “We are all kids at heart, and I feel that when we watch and listen to happy things, it spreads within us,” he shared. It’s music to his ears when people tell him that this is “their second or third year and that I started a tradition—that lights me up.”
While Draghici said he “bares the brunt of it,” he “downplays” the increase in his electric bill. Last year, his bill was the highest in years, approximately 35 percent more than average, which he attributes to the amount of lights and the hours they keep.
Neighbor Greg Cohen said he thinks “it’s nice that it brings people from different backgrounds and communities together to enjoy the holiday spirit,” and he enjoys the “spirit and ingenuity that Mikel puts into his holiday display.” Cohen added, “It’s nice to see couples and families stroll by and stop to enjoy the show. Often, we’ll see people dance in front of the lights.”
Fishback added, “People come and gather out front, and there’s a steady stream of cars that will come and slow down, but it doesn’t affect us. We like it, and it’s an interesting conversation piece.”
The Draghici family proudly presents The Kentlands Christmas Light Show from Dec. 1, 2018 through Jan. 5, 2019. Come enjoy the twinkle! The lights will shine from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and visitors are invited to leave a donation in the donation box for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.