ROCKWALL — Every year since 2007, Rockwall resident Donna Orr has been putting up an animated lights display to celebrate the holiday season for people to come enjoy the show from the comfort of their car seats.
The display, which is in the Rolling Meadows Estates neighborhood on North Stodghill Road in Rockwall, is synchronized to music that visitors can listen to by tuning their car radios to FM 102.7.
The public is invited to drive by and view the animated display, take pictures and get in the holiday spirit anytime between 6 and 11 p.m. from now until Jan. 2.
“My favorite part is getting it up and getting everything connected and seeing it work,” she said.
Orr is part of a hobby group called the Northeast Texas Holiday Light-O-Holics, which has grown to more than 100 members since it was created a few years ago. The group now has members from across the state.
“Just in the Rockwall area, there are probably five to six different houses do this that are in the group, but we’re all over the Metroplex,” she said.
Members of the holiday light group usually spend between $1,000 to $3,000 each year to put up their displays, Orr said.
The group began primarily from their shared interest in decorating their homes in December, but members have also started putting up displays for other popular U.S. holidays, such as Halloween and Independence Day.
This year, Orr’s display this year includes 12 lighted arches, 10 “mini” trees and one “mega” tree that stands 16 feet tall. She also has a variety of other holiday-themed decorations like candy canes and snowflakes. Every piece is lighted with animation and choreographed with each other and with the music.
Every three years or so, Orr and her husband, Roger Shank, try to improve the design of the light display.
Though it only takes about a week to put up displays, the creative process behind designing the show and putting together the props can be a year-round endeavor, she noted.
“First, we were just LED lights and we’ve evolved over the years to the RGB lights,” Orr explained. “The difference is that your LED lights usually have designated colors. When you buy RGB lights, they’re called ‘pixels.’ Every pixel can produce 256 colors and they’re individually programmable.”
Orr’s group works with a group called xLights, which provides free software to help people better program their holiday lights. They use a different computer program to animate the lights to different songs.
Orr says she's loved decorating her house for the holidays since she was a child.
“I like to program them; I like to design them,” she noted. “I started doing static displays at my parents' house and then at my own house. Roger and I had static displays, and then we went from incandescent lights to LED lights, now we’re on the RGB lights.”
People can visit the following streets in the Hunt and Rockwall County region that have displays from members in Orr’s holiday lights group: Zeter Drive in the Woodcreek (Fate_ subdivision; Artesia Lane in McLendon-Chisholm; and Oak Bluff Lane in Sachse, Texas.
Those who are interested in joining the holiday light group can request to do so at the group’s Facebook page, https://bit.ly/2A8azd5. Members meet in person once a month from February through October.
“There is a lot to learn, a lot to do and a lot to have fun with,” Orr added. “We find out that with the families, it’s not just the couples that do it. A lot of the times the kids get involved with their parents.”