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  • 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.
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  • 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.

    Animated Cutouts Up And Running

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    AAaaaaahhh... the weather cooperated and I was able to put our display up on Saturday. This is the first year for us to be in our brand new house and the first time I've had a yard big enough that I could place 2 of my displays in the front yard at the same time.

    Everything is up and running and we had about 20 neighbors outside watching when I turned it on for the first time Saturday night. The kids were thrilled and the neighbors were very excited to have the display up.

    To give you a little information. All the characters are made out of Coroplast. Some of them are hand drawn, some of them were projected onto the Coro with an overhead projector and traced. Each of the motorized characters is powered by a windshield wiper motor. To give you and idea of the scale... the "Merry Christmas" snowman in the middle of the yard is 8' x 8'.








    If you're interested in seeing videos...

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    Great stuff. Any way to get a pix of the back side for the motor motoring, or tips on the building?

    Thanks Dave -

    Here is a youtube video showing the backside of one of the elves. At the time, I had a reindeer motor attached and have swapped that out with a wiper motor... but everything (other than the motor) is the same.

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    • 2 weeks later...
    • 10 months later...

    Unfortunately... my new house comes complete with new weather patterns!!!  Much to my dismay, my neighbors were correct when they warned me about the typical winds that blow along the ridge on which we live.  40, 50 and even 60 mile per hour winds are very common during the winter.  Here are a few pictures of what happened after the first 50+ mph wind that blew through last year! 


    I'm in the process of trying to create something that will take advantage of the wind rather than trying to fight against it.  There is no way I'm going to win that fight!  Before blowing over the display... the wind bent my metal stakes (holding down the figures).  I had staked down the figures so well I thought there was no way they would blow over.  Boy, was I wrong!


    Here's the result!



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    Thanks for the suggestion... I'm afraid it's just a losing battle.  I feel fortunate that nothing blew into my neighbors houses and did damage.  There were a few pieces that ended up several hundred feet away that had 2 x 2 wooden frames attached.  If one of those had hit a window, I would have been in a world of hurt.   Don't think I can risk that happening again!

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    Love seeing your stuff... do you have more pictures or a website?  I'd love to see more of it!  I use a very similar idea... but don't use those clips.  Where do you get those and what are they called... if you don't mind me asking?

    not sure if this helps but this is how we support our stuff. A lot of our stuff is over 6ft tall with Chicago winds, no issues yet.





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    Thanks. They are 1" conduit hangers. I'm pretty sure I got them from Menards, really effective and inexpensive.


    I hope you aren't giving up on your display. I've been inspired to start animating my display with wiper motors. So thank you!


    Here are some pics from years past:





    Edited by butters
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    Thanks for sending along the pics!  Your yard looks GREAT!  I would imagine you get a lot of people stopping by to look at it.  I've been putting my displays up for over 20 years now.  I hate the thought of not putting one up... but the wind is so horrific out where I am that I just don't think I'm going to attempt it this year.  My girls are rather bummed... so am I.  It was pretty devastating to see the entire display torn to bits last year... just not sure I want to go through that again.  One thought I'm having is to attach the background to the house itself and then attach the figurines to the backdrop.  That takes away the animation and the 3D effect of having the figures stand out from the backdrop... but it, at least, gets them out front and seen by the public.  Still thinking on that idea.


    Good luck with your animating... have you gotten any of them animated for this year?  When are you going to put everything out?

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    Thank you. No plans for this year as we just moved to a new house and haven't had time to do anything. But next year we'll be back in it. I'm looking forward to a year off.


    You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of your cutouts from the back? I'm trying to get an idea of how I'm going to animate some of these. I've seen your videos on YouTube, they help a ton.

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    Thank you. No plans for this year as we just moved to a new house and haven't had time to do anything. But next year we'll be back in it. I'm looking forward to a year off.


    You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of your cutouts from the back? I'm trying to get an idea of how I'm going to animate some of these. I've seen your videos on YouTube, they help a ton.


    Let me look around and see if I can find some... or take some!

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    old microwave motors - small AC motor is what they typically use in Reindeers and other animated items. Can be picked up cheaply on eBay and cheap stores etc. normally the motors are exact same as what you find in xmas décor as what's in fans etc.
    Believe it or not, when we build ours we try to find any type of motor That it cheap and has enough power to move what's being animated. This year I was making a Mickey Mouse clubhouse for my son and ended up using an old Ronco Rotiserrie motor, tons of torque in that little motor
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    That would be great, thank you!

    Alrighty... got some pictures taken of the backside of one of my characters (female elf).  Hope they help you out a little bit in animating your figures!














    I'm now using windshield wiper motors that can be found at www.monsterguts.com rather than the reindeer motors that I used to use.  The reindeer motors were just too slow and made the animation rather difficult to notice since everything moved at such a slow rate of speed.  The windshield wiper motors have great torque and are variable speed.  MUCH better for animation purposes in my opinion!

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