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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.

Glenn Koenig

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About Glenn Koenig

  • Rank
    Distinguished Member
  • Birthday 01/11/1966

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  • Location
    Lodi, New Jersey, USA
  • Interests
    Christmas Displays, Marine Aquariums, Computers, NASA, Electronics
  • Occupation
    Mechanical Engineer
  1. Let me preface this by saying my original intention for having a big display has changed. We started our display as having some innocent rope light and mini light reindeer, and a few net lights. That year we were basically insulted by one of the neighbors as we were setting up, only to find out that they won 1st and 2nd place in the town's Chamber of Commerce sponsored Christmas Decorating Contest. That was it for me. I thought, why couldn't I pull together my electronics and computer background into creating something different. I had no idea that people were already doing this kind of light show, except for Dan Baldwin who lives a couple of minutes fom me. I was most impressed at his multicolored trees that faded in and out. I didn't know he already started selling the LOR hardware. In order for me to make the jump to display hyperspace, I was determined to first constructhardware for a snowman snowball fight. I learned how to program the PIC microcontroller and then bought 48 chanels of LOR. We now have a tastefuland colorful blend of static scenesand lots of synchronized areas. The first night of lights-on, I had the PC outside, whilethe "neighbors" strolled over as a nosy audience. I clicked on the screento turn onthe static portion and the rest was history. We won 2nd place for that year. The last 2 years were even bigger and better than the first, but we did not win at all. We absolutely should have won 1st, as we saw the houses that did winwhere they couldn't compare to what we do on any level. Since the contest doesn't announce the winners until the following year at the tree lighting ceremony (stupid idea), we know that we did not win anything last year, but from what I heard, the neighbor "complained" and got 3rd place, for the same cluttered static display done year after year with a few minor changes. I had already unofficially dropped out of the contest (mental decision) two years ago because ofwhat, to me,was obvious corruption and political favoritism. But guess what... we have won every year since we started. The smiles on my kids' faces and the uplifting feeling the display brings to our lives takes first place every time. We consistently have many cars stopping by and people getting out to see the display, something we don't see anywhere else in town.Judging from people's delight and kind words, even when we are setting up,we know without a doubt what we have reallyaccomplished. So, the rest of the town can do what they do, whilewe continue to be motivated by the positive aspects, not the negative.
  2. It's unfortunate when these types of contests become political. My town is no exception. The winners are all either "friends" of the Chamber of Commerce that sponsors the contest or are politically conected. My biggest pet peeve is that the winners of the current year's contestare not revealed until the following year at the tree lighting ceremony. It doesn't give anyone a chance to see the winning houses. I have seen the so called winner's houses and I have to objectively say that ours is in a class by itself. Its not about winning for us. Our true trophy is seeing the smiles of little faces when parents bring theirchildren to walkaround to see the display. We always have a nativity scene to reinforce the reason for the season.
  3. We always leave our displayon. The only 2 issues we have to worry about are the GFCIs tripping of it rains out, or running out of bubbles in the bubble machine.
  4. tfischer wrote: Tim, I couldn't have said it better. I have the most fun adding to the display. When people tell me how clever or creative something is, I am always honest with them and myself by telling if it's my original idea or a variation on someone else. I would never use someone's sequence, mainly because myour display is way too intricate and the display is dependent on the house layout (corner house with marginal lawn buffer, a.k.aartistic canvas,to the sidewalk). I have been most inspired by Daryl Brown (Michael W. Smith - Jingle Bells sequence, Ron Lister (use of rope light), Drew Hickman (snowman snowball fight), and mega tree construction (PC general discussion). As an example of this inspiration, 2 years ago when WOW hit the media, I was inspired to use Carson Williams' triangular tree pattern into the display. What I came up with for last year wasn'ta copy of thesequenced pattern, but rather, it turned into a stand-alone animated 21 channel sequence ofa 10 pin bowling alley between a rope light Santa andsnowman, with rope light gutters, and different colored balls travelling down the alley. This year, I will be building a leaping archway. The existing candy cane archway was getting faded and needed a replacement. Ken Maxwell'sideaprovided the incentive and direction I needed to initiate this relatively last minute replacement. The wiring, however, willbe all my own doing (or demise). In addition to the archway, I will be doing a penguin campfire, completely inspired by Brian Mitchell's idea. The simplicity of this display element will no doubt lookcopied, but the campfire will be my own creation.Speaking personally, most of the time someone's ideas are just incentives for me to get started on something I have a general idea of, but need to start thinking about the specifics in order to get from the drawing board to the lawn.
  5. Our houseis on a corner with a STOP sign. We always get lots of looks and finger pointing. I get a bit self concious sometimes, but considering how much time it takes to do everything, it's amazing we don't start earlier. Last weekend was the big push. We started Nov 2 by just doing thewrap-around porch items like the 3-color garland on the columns, icicle lights and rope light and rope ornamentson the railings. Nothing on thelawn yet. This past weekend on Sunday was the big push, with icicles on the roof, and 90%ofeverything that goes out on the lawn. If someone passed by on Saturday evening and then on Monday morning, they would have thought an ExtremeMakeover: HomeEdition Christmas Special was just taped at our house.
  6. I actually used Target blues for 2 years and noticed different shades between sets right from the start. I didn't see any peeling with them, but they certainly did fade. This year I am scrapping them for the ocean waves in our polar beariceberg display forLowes blue rope light.
  7. I have been using these hooks for the last 3 years. They can be very difficult to use, depending on the type of gutter you have. This is due to the variations in the gutter edge, fom manufacturer to manufacturer. The hooks are designed to work with all gutter edges, but the main problem is that they sometimes do not "click in" when you unscrew the pole. When this happens, the hook lays crooked and often pops off, sometimes landing inside the gutter itself. I have found that reusing old hooks are more of a problem than with new ones. Constant temperature and UV exposure seems to cause them to become more brittle, and harder to use. One thing I have found helpful is not to screw the threaded pole end into the hooks all of the way. Just have enough of turns to keep the hook secured for fastening on the gutter. This way when the hookis in place, you only have to exert a minimum amount of force to overcome the friction to remove the pole, thus not disturbing the hook-to-gutter mating arrangement, minimizing hooks popping off.
  8. We were looking around Lowes the other day and noticed that they had this 7' Ferris Wheel at an in-store price of $170.00. We were very interested but passed it up since we were in there for other items. The following day we were in our local Home Depot and noticed that they were selling them for $189.99. Since it was set up on the ground (unlike Lowes)wewere busy checking it out. A manager came over to us and asked if we were interested. My wife said we were thinking about it but saw that Lowes was selling it for $170.00. The manager then talked to another manager and then said to us that it was their last one as they sold out of the 6 that were shipped to them, and they will not be getting any more in. If we wanted it, they would sell itto us for $167.00.....Sold:waycool:. As we were paying for it, some guy sent his kid over to ask how much it was, but was disappointed since they were now sold out. Moral of the story...don't hesitate getting this item if you really want it, they may be in high demand considering the low quantities available in each store.
  9. tfischer wrote: This is exactly what I do. What will be will be. There is really no sense at trying to defeat the GFCI's or trying to waterproof anything while it is raining/snowing. Glenn
  10. 47,839 so far. I might add some blue rope light to our icebergs and perhaps some clear chasing ropelight somewhere else. I would love to do more but I am maxed out with outlets and the submain. Glenn
  11. I am really depressed. In order for a Thanksgiving Eve turn-on, I would have to work a few hours tonight when I get home from work, and a good part of the morning on Thanksgiving. Weather forcast is for rain, 90% chance,:{starting early tonight through turkey day. No way to finish. However, the display is turned off when there is a lot of rain anyway, (even with GFCIs), so it might not have been able to go on. That leaves Friday to get it all done. Good thing I was staying home away from all the craziness. Glenn
  12. Today's Status: A bit behind schedule for Turkey Night turn on. Ran several more extensions to finish filling up a couple of LOR boxes. Focused more on the static display wiring Will have to sit-out tonight's wiring plans due to taking the kids to see Disney On Ice This will no doubt cause the bird in the oven on Thursday to be alone forseveral intervals. Glenn
  13. Does anyone replace their icicle light sets after a certain number of seasons, or do you always troubleshoot for bad bulbs? I use 6-150 light sets of clear icicle lights to outline my porch. As always, I tested the lights prior to placing them on the gutter clips (the ones that are installed with the pole). Mostly a couple of dead sections due to broken bulbs, and a couple that required the light tester. After they were 100%, I carefully hung them up. A couple of days later, when things started to get wired up, I tested them. Wouln't you know, several sections were dead. This would have been the 4th season that I am using these lights. Since I want to have lights-ON by Thanksgiving Eve, I decided to just buy new sets from WalMart. I did not want to take the time and try to fix all of the outtages, as the few that I repaired previously, tooksome time. Am I giving up too early on these lights? They do offer more of a challenge totroubleshoot than mini strings or net lights. Coupled with the fact that these lights are always swaying in the wind, who knows how much acculumated damage they may have taken. Glenn
  14. My wife and I just started the display this past Friday and did a lot of work yesterday. We skipped Sat.due to a dayt trip but actually got about 60% of the display out, less wiring. I can't say that I am resting at work, but I definately feel a strong yearning to be back home working on something else. All I can do here is update the To-Do List and think about the next thing to tackle when I get home. A couple of years ago I was able to do some LOR sequencing during lunchtime. This was a great time saver, but I am no longer able to run LOR on my work PC due to administrative restrictions on the work PCs. Yes, I am aching from muscle soreness, but it hurts more not being able to work on the display... Quitting time is when the real work begins . Glenn
  15. Jeff, Great post, I would not have known about santastars.com otherwise. Logan, Great site. How come the site does not accept the zero in my zip code, 07644? Glenn
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