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Did you know?
  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.

Time For Class Details...

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We’re ahead of schedule, because we usually don’t announce all of this until 30 days or so before the start, but we’re very excited about the class offerings for this year’s Academy. 2011 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for our annual event so if you have not registered yet you should be sure to go to academy.lonestarholidays.com to do so. We’re sure you’ll agree that it’s an event worth attending once you review the class list below!

Remember that these classes could change as we get closer to the Academy (and there are still several “in the works”!)

So without further delay...


Regardless of your level of experience, this track allows attendees to learn about many different aspects of decorating and develop new skills to enhance you show.

Applying Video in your Show (Jack Mayes): Video is becoming more and more prevalent in holiday displays. Jack Mayes will lead you through the process of making the decision to add video, using it effectively in your display, and how this can add a new level of excitement to your show (please note- this is not a course about video creation and editing. See below for a class opportunity focused on that area).

The Ups & Downs of Spiral Trees (JD Schuck): Everyone has seen the latest craze in Christmas trees. Whether you call it the Weber tree or Spiral tree, the effects that this unique elements can bring to your display are endless. JD Schuck erected not one, but two full sized spiral trees in 2010. He will walk you through the calculations, set up, the pros of using the trees, and in a unique twist (no pun intended!) he will share with you why he has decided not to include them in his 2011 display.

Zara Radio (Chris Backus): One of the newest audio resources that has worked itself into extreme decorating is Zara Radio. This software program allows the user to go beyond the typical show set up and creates a true home-based radio station that has the ability to run all day, not just during your display hours.

RGB Basics (Harrison Ward): The owner of Cheap DMX will be on hand as a vendor and also a teacher. Harrison Ward was an early adopter of RGB integration and will be holding a course to help with the basics of understanding RGB lighting. His knowledge and down-to-earth teaching style will help you start the transition to RGB.

Easy & Impactful (Clyde Dearing): The television star of “Invasion of the Christmas Lights 2010” and our own President, Clyde Dearing will be bringing back one of our most popular classes… ever! Whether you have been decorating for 5 years or 5 minutes, Clyde’s unique (and sometimes off the wall!) display elements can help think of ways to make your additions easy and impactful!


Are you new to extreme decorating? This is the place for you! The planners for this track have created a step-by-step path that will help you get started and through your first year. You may attend all of the classes one after another (as designed) or you can come and go as topics interest you. If you’re bringing a first-timer with you, and they are wondering how to get started, point them to this track.

Building a Display (Clyde Dearing): This session will cover the process of building a display from scratch, or at least humble beginnings. Clyde will lead you throw the process of developing a theme or message while avoiding unnecessary changes to what is already in place. This course will help you identify the easiest path and laying out the pitfalls of wholesale change. There will also be discussion on how to develop your display to accommodate future growth (and future animating if that’s your thing!).

Electricity for Newbies (Anthony Vetrano): Anthony Vetrano, who has been decorating for over a decade, will be describing electrical codes, devices and methods used in home electricity distribution. We’ll talk about homeowner vs. professional installation and methods to power your display. Problems and concerns always come up when it comes to outside electrical usage including rain and wind, and why safety is important. To wrap it all up, Anthony will explain (and show off) extension cord options to help you get your power from panel to elements.

Avoiding Panic Before Lights On (Chris Backus): As an experienced decorator, Chris Backus knows what happens when the panic sets in. He will show you the value of early planning, good scheduling and regular reassessment of your progress. How do you get an “arms length” view of where you stand? Is it worth enlisting the help of others? When should you walk away from a particular task. What’s the best plan for testing equipment before setup, and after setup, troubleshooting and starting your show. To end everything, Chris will lead you into a yoga exercise to help with basic stress relief and calming techniques (ok, maybe not the yoga, but that is the ultimate goal of this session).

Christmas is Over… But What About NEXT Year? (Mike Carr): Mike Carr, who knows all about being a beginner - he’s been there and lead the development of this entire track!). This is not the traditional class, but a facilitated discussion about how to process after year one. We will include quick overview of the technologies that are available and emerging on the animated decorating front. Some examples of props will be available to to get your thinking about the next steps in your decorating journey.


There are many potential software solutions out there and deciding which one is for you can be daunting. Even if you have used something in the past, you might be looking for that “next step” in your software evolution.

Light Show Pro: Is it the future of sequencing? (David Moore): David Moore has been a strong voice in the decorating community over the past few years. His innovative ideas have generated a lot of interest for Lone Star Holidays members, whether it is pertaining to RGB, coroplast pieces never seen before, or new methods of sequencing. These classes will focus on that last topic: sequencing utilizing the Light Show Pro software. If you have attended David’s educational offerings in the past you know that this will be a comprehensive path for you to learn about this exciting software suite. It is broken into three separate 1 hour blocks- you can attend each of them in order to get the full experience or you may choose to attend the sections that interest you (the breakdown of each section will be posted soon!).

Light O Rama Educational Track: Light O Rama continues to be the leader in holiday decorating sequencing (hardware and software). The ease of use, price point, and unrivaled support has made them a fixture in the Christmas community. Every year we strive to make our LOR educational offerings a little better than the year before- 2011 is no exception. New instructors, new teaching methods, and a whole lot of information await you during this track. Learn from start to finish by attending all of the classes in order, or pick and choose which sessions to attend based on your experience and skill level.

LOR Basic Training (JD Schuck):
What is Light-O-Rama? What are all the pieces of hardware and software you need to animate your display?. Learn how to take your lights, props, yard features, and combine with music to animate. See how is it done, and what do you need to animate with LOR. JD Schuck will be facilitating this class in a very unique way. You will NOT see the everyday PowerPoint presentation in this class! Live demo and walk thru of all the pieces components.

LOR Rookie Level (Don Teague):
With the big picture painted what are the mechanics to running LOR (Equipment), and what are the software parts to pull it all together. Put a song in, create some channels, and create timings. Fades and other effects.

LOR Mid Level (Don Teague):
You have it set up, and can take a song and apply some channels. Now you want to work with tracks, increased channels and boom you think you're over your head. How to tread water with LOR and make it fun.

LOR: After the Sequence (Johnny Poore):
We have always had classes that focus on hardware an sequencing. But what happens AFTER the sequence? Every year we hear and see posts about “My sequences are finished but how to I make a Show?”, “Why won’t my lights come on?”, “What does the Schedule Editor do?” Johnny Poore, a long time LOR user, will lead you through the control Panel, hardware utility, schedule editor, verifier, and program diagnostics. What does the different terminology mean? What are the benefits of delays between programs, start up, shut down, voiceovers, best time to start a show, optimizing show lengths, special event shows (i.e movie night, show content like an all TSO night or all kids night), advertising your show, handouts, giveaways, signage). This course will touch on these topics and give you some true insight into what happens “After the Sequence”.

LOR Advanced (JD Schuck):
JD is back and will wrap up the LOR offerings this year. This class will lead you through the next phases of your LOR experience. Best practices for using and sequencing Cosmic Color Ribbons, going to extreme channel counts, using multiple networks and other facets of advanced LOR use will be discussed and taught during this session.


Many people learn by touching, and seeing things up close. Our lab offerings are meant to promote just that style of learning.

Blacklight Lab (Barb Gotcher): One of our resident Haunters, Barb Gotcher, will have several examples of black light technology on hand for you to see up close. Some photos of these in action will be shown on the big screen as well. After that, it’ll be time to dim the lights and see these things in action!

Website Building: We have done classes at previous Academy events that cover the basics of websites from an HTML standpoint. For 2011 we’re moving away from that and showing attendees how they can use two very familiar formats to get their displays out to the public. Be sure to bring your laptop to these labs!

Website Building Using Wordpress (Ron Allison):
Wordpress uses a simple and effective system to allow you to make updates to your website without coding and a ton of web building experience. Ron Allison will take you through the WordPress interface step-by-step, building a webpage right in front of you.

Website Building Using Facebook (Scott Young):
Scott Young, of Young Technology, will be on hand to share the many uses of Facebook as a marketing tool for your displays (or for any business/event/attraction!). Bring your laptop and be ready to build your Facebook presence as the class progresses. By the time you walk out you will have a page ready to go!

Becoming Santa (Don Gallaway): The Lone Star Santas are a group here in Texas that show the same level of passion and commitment to portraying the “big guy” as our members do for extreme decorating. Santa Don Galaway, who has been a fixture at the last two Academy events is setting up this portion, along with other members of the Lone Star Santas. This will take your interactions to a whole new level as you see firsthand what takes to “become Santa”!

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Planning on coming but things may change so don't want to register beforehand.

Sounds good. Because of catering we do close off a few days before the start of the Academy. You'll see a post here when the cutoff date is.

Edited by Ryan_Johnson

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Only 4 weeks away now. Be sure to get registered. Lots of great classes on that list.

Don't miss out!

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