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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.

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  1. We've heard some comments come up since our announcement last year concerning our inclusion of the DIY Light Animation team in this year’s Academy. While we want to cover those DIY and RGB topics that people want to learn about we will NEVER forget that there are many, many facets of the holidays. The Lone Star Holidays Academy is not about any one small subset of celebrating those festive times of year and those who have attended in the past know that for a fact! That being said, we do recognize why some folks feel we’ve been a bit “DIY heavy” for 2012, just based on the announcements so far. When the Academy was finished last year we were contacted by RJ from DLA and he wanted to be a part of the event in 2012. It just made sense: we already run one of the only annual, multi-day, multi-room event in the United States. We bring in folks from all over the state of Texas and beyond (To date our registrants for this year’s Academy are coming from 15 different states (from California to New York) and TWO countries!). With the popularity of DIY we wanted to offer the best in education for that part of the Academy and with RJ and DLA wanting to be a part of things we felt that was a great opportunity for all of our attendees. This is a win/win for everyone because no one is limited to any one set of classes. DIYers can visit any classes and vice versa- there are no walls at the Academy! So believe us when we tell you that the last thing we want is for people to think the 2012 Lone Star Holidays Academy is all about DIY, because nothing could be further from the truth! We don’t usually do this but because we’re so excited and you want to know what else there is beyond the DIY world we’re going to make three days worth of announcements this week. Today (Wednesday) is the first of those and the announcement of the “Christmas Classic” classes: Where to Start? The Process of Designing Your Display: Every year we have people tell us that they really want a course on where to start. What should they do with their yard? How can they make all of those fancy elements they see online and in person work in their space (and budget!)? We can’t help you with the budget piece, but this class is designed to get you started in determining your own display on your own “canvas”. If you’re new to the game (or bringing someone with you who is just getting into the hobby) this is a great jumping on point! When you leave this session you should be able to select classes to attend for the rest of the Academy weekend that will help you realize your dream. Interactive Displays: How do you handle traffic? The media? A throng of people? Kids running into the display? What kind of skits and/or props can you use to make visitors feel like a part of things? This course will be facilitated by none other than Clyde Dearing of “Invasion of the Christmas Lights 2” and a long-time decorator of LARGE (both in scope and visitors!) residential displays (he was also the first Lone Star Holidays President until the people finally spoke up! ). Clyde will bring his unique experiences and laid back teaching style to this class and help you figure some of those interactive aspects out. Working with Coro: We ran this course for two years (and at two workgroups) but it’s back by popular demand in 2012. Coro continues to be a fantastic way to incorporate an easy-to-work-with material into your display. The versatility and cost of coro allow holiday fanatics to utilize it regardless of experience level. From signs, to shapes to 10 foot tall Nutcrackers, the possibilities of working with coro are endless! Working with Wood Cutouts: Remember the good old days when you would pile into the car with your family and look at lights around the neighborhood? The days before RGB, musical animation, voiceovers, bubbles and fake snow? Remember the house that had the very best cutouts in the yard, illuminated by a bright spotlight that showed off the colors and craftsmanship of each piece? Luckily those elements never go out of style! This course will show you the basics of working with wood and how you can incorporate them into today’s higher tech displays. Filming Your Display: “I want good video of my house but I don’t have the fanciest camera and I don’t know how to make it look good!” We’ve heard that time and time again and we’re going to do something about it. Chris Sims of the Regional Development Committee will be on hand to guide you through the basics of videoing your display. Types of equipment, settings, tips and tricks to help you get the best results possible will all be a part of this session. The Polar Express (Bringing Trains into Your Display): Mechanical movers continue to be a popular element in displays across the country but where do you start with such a technical project? Jack Huitt, a long-time train builder, will be helping you understand the nuances of building and incorporating trains into your display. There won’t be any trips to the North Pole or Tom Hanks portraying the conductor but you can be sure you’ll leave this session with a basic understanding of train building, resources to help you find your materials, and the inspiration to get to work on your own train! Zara Radio 101 and 201 (two classes): Heeee’s baaaack! Chris Backus returns to the Academy to take you through the intricacies of one of the hottest software pieces available to enhance your display: Zara Radio. In 2011 Chris taught one course on this to a standing-room only crowd so it was obvious we had to ask him back in 2012. His only request was that we make sure he has twice as much time and a larger space to cover it all! Want to make your display into a truly comprehensive home radio station? This is the place to start. Please note that you do not need to attend both Zara Radio sessions. As with all Academy classes (except the S3 Experience), there are no pre-requisites or limitations on what you see. You should attend those that you think will benefit you and your displays the most. What Should I Buy? The Rundown on Light-O-Rama Hardware: Light-O-Rama continues to be the hardware option of choice for many, many decorators and we would be remiss to not cover the hardware aspects associated with it. If you’re new to the game and considering Light-O-Rama, this is the place to start. We will cover all of the available options from a hardware standpoint: Pros and cons, ideas for usage, and real-world stories of integration that will help you make an informed decision on your future purchases. Light-O-Rama BS: No, not that kind of BS! We’re talking about the LOR suite Before Sequencing. With all of the software options available for sequencing, Light-O-Rama is still one of the top selling and highly regarded options around. This session will cover some of the basics of the S3 software suite and is a great pre-requisite to Sunday’s "S3 Experience" with Drew Hickman of Holiday Technologies (remember the S3 Experience is an add on to the Academy registrations so be sure to go to the LSH Shopzone and register for it if you plan to attend. Deadline is coming up quickly!). Making Your Own Music (The Basics of Audio Editing): Back by popular demand, Joe Rogers will be on hand providing the knowledge he has acquired from years in the recording industry and residential display building. Using Audacity, Joe will help you understand the program, learn the fundamentals of audio editing, and offer you some real-world best practices on making the music you choose unique to your display. BOOM! (The Elements of a Fireworks Show): This isn’t a “Christmas Classic” but we didn’t have another category for “Things That Can Blow Your Hands Off!” so we’re including it here. We’ve done some Basic Firework classes before, from history to safety to legalities to types of fireworks. We took a year off from this in 2011 but we’re back in time for the 2012 July 4th holiday to show you how to build your fireworks display, fuse it up, and some tips on how to keep things safe and exciting when show time arrives! Make sure to check back tomorrow when we let the (black) cat out of the bag for our next set of classes! It’s so good it’s scary! REGISTER HERE TODAY!
  2. “The LOR classes were great but I really wanted to have a large block dedicated to just sequencing.” “As someone new I would have liked to learn about sequencing from one of the experts.” “Sequencing, sequencing, sequencing!” All of those statements have come from our Academy feedback surveys over the past four years. We’ve approached Light-O-Rama classes from every possible vantage point when using volunteers as instructors. Long time users, professional sequencers, commercial providers… you name it and the Academy has tried it. But after four years we’re going to give people what they want: a full day of sequencing training (including comprehensive review of the newest software version, S3) presented by a recognized leader in Light-O-Rama training: Drew Hickman of Holiday Technologies. Holiday Technologies attended the Academy in 2008 and supported the event through advertising sponsorship in 2009 and 2010 so they know what our event is all about. Drew brings an invaluable amount of real-world expertise to the course and has taught light display and animation courses at locations all across the United States. He has been in the light display business since 1996, creating the very first commercially available hardware (ChristmasCave*) and software (Dasher*) products for music-synchronized displays. Since that time Drew has worked on all types of displays, large and small, commercial and residential, and is a certified LOR instructor. He is sure to share some of his more interesting experiences of being in this business with his students. The majority of class time will be spent teaching people how to use the Light-O-Rama (LOR) S3 software suite. Throughout the session Drew will share his real world experiences and teach shortcuts that will save countless hours of wasted time during the busy time of the decorating season. The course will focus on the sequence editor, building shows, and advanced training, tips and tricks for increasing the speed and quality of your programming. So there you have it, the sequencing solution you’ve asked for. However this is an addition to the Academy, utilizing a professional instructor and because of that it requires a higher registration cost. Your $60 Academy registration isn’t increasing but if you want to attend “The S3 Experience” it will cost an additional $150. Two things to keep in mind with this cost: The $150 cost is a reduction from Holiday Technologies regular pricing. Drew is attending the Academy, and has worked to develop this custom course, because he believes in the event and the people who attend it. We appreciate and respect the fact that this is a business for Holiday Technologies and we ask that our attendees (and potential attendees) do the same. This course requires 12 people to be registered and paid in full by no later than February 29, 2012. If we do not have those numbers there is a possibility that the course will be cancelled (refunds in full will be issued if that occurs, but we believe this will not be necessary). Materials: A comprehensive manual is available for sale for $50 (you will see it in the LSH Shopzone). This manual will cover far more than just the information from the course. Academy attendees who do not register for “The S3 Experience” may also purchase the manual. Delivery of manuals will occur on Day 3 of the Academy. Hours: 9am-4:30pm on Day 3 (June 17th). The class will break during the lunch period. What to bring: Attendees must bring a computer with them that has the Light-O-Rama S3 software already installed. So if you have been looking for the best in Light-O-Rama sequence training this is your opportunity. Head over to the LSH Shopzone and you will see the regular Academy registration for $60 or the Registration WITH the S3 Experience for $210 ($60 + $150)- be sure to select the correct item before checking out (and for those of you who have already registered and would like to have the S3 Experience add-on you will receive information via email on how to handle this). The S3 Experience: Just another aspect that makes the 2012 Academy "Citius, Altius, Fortius". Click the image below for more information or to register today!
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