Dillon Christmas light show brings music to the mix

Published 7:31 am Tuesday, December 28, 2021

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Viewing Christmas light displays may be fun, but there is one location in Manteo that offers more than just a pretty view.

More than just a conglomeration of flashing lights spread out across the yard, visitors passing by the home of Anthony and Ashleigh Dillon at 959 Wingina Avenue can get an outdoor Christmas light show synchronized to music.

Guaranteed to put anyone into the holiday spirit, by turning their FM radio to 107.5, visitors tap into a computer-controlled 14 minute loop of six or seven songs designed to entertain anyone willing to sit still that long.

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Very much like some of the videos of Christmas lights synchronized to music seen on Facebook, the musical light show runs from 5-10 p.m. nightly (weather permitting) all through December.

“I notice a lot of people just slowing down and not stopping,” said Anthony. “I don’t think they know there is music with the lights.”

Anthony said the inspiration came from his own family.

“My parents always had extravagant Christmas decorations when I was growing up,” he explained. “They did that for every holiday, but Christmas was the big one. Mother Vineyard was the place to come for all the Christmas light displays. I’m just trying to perpetuate the spirit.”

The first display of his own was in 2014. Primarily a spread of lights across the front lawn that, even then, was tied into a music program. Each year after that he has tried to expand the display and add something new.

Adding to it each year, the display now has an estimated 1,500 feet of electrical wire with thousands of lights attached.

How many lights?

Anthony said he has never kept track. With wires and lights spread across the yard, running across the roof of his house and wrapped around several trees and other fixtures in the yard, it is almost too many to count.

Some of his lights are 12 volts, others run on regular house current. Many are the traditional glass C-9 bulbs designed for outdoor patio and Christmas tree use. Others are the more energy efficient LED.

The effort amounts to a boost in his electric bill of a little less than $100.

Making almost everything himself, Anthony cut holes in hundreds of ping pong balls and placed them onto a majority of the LED lights.

“I want them to glow, not just have a lot of brightness,” he added

Six 20 amp breakers feed the show through four control boxes and a commuter inside the house runs a Vixon software program for all the lights.

To match the lights to the rhythm of the music, Anthony has to program the lights one line of computer code at a time.

“It’s almost like writing music,” he explains. “I can watch the lights and without hearing the music I know where a song is in the program.”

Each year the display grows.

Last year he added some small Christmas trees to the front of the yard along the street. There are also two wire frames shaped like Christmas trees in the yard adorned with lots of those C-9 lights.

Even as the display grows, and more people learn about it, the Dillons still have the support of their neighbors. There are also no outside speakers, which means to hear the music visitors have to dial it in themselves.

“I want to be kind to my neighbors,” Anthony said with a smile. “And to myself.”

Most people passing by do slow down a bit, and those that do stop generally pull off to the side so as to not block others.

“We really haven’t had any traffic problems,” said Anthony. “Most people seem to understand what’s going on. I did look out the other night and there were people with their car window down dancing to the music.”

For those unable to make the drive, the Dillons have a Facebook page (Its a Dillon Christmas) with samples of their work.