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New downtown Christmas decoration to ring in holidays with upbeat music, lights show
By Rebecca Sandlin and Cindy Klepper - Monday, November 28, 2016 8:06 AM
Originally published Nov. 24, 2016.
A new downtown decoration is taking advantage of a prime piece of real estate to ring in some holiday cheer, thanks to donations from local businesses and the electronic programming expertise of a local resident.
A 32-foot “Christmas tree” made of metal and state-of-the-art “RGB” lights will light up the corner of Jefferson Street and West Park Drive when the switch is pulled on Sunday, dwarfing nearly all of the other decorations in Huntington’s downtown “mall.”
The “mega tree,” as City Services Superintendent Bob Caley calls it, was custom-designed to fit over the fountain at Rotary Park by Huntington Sheet Metal, which also donated the materials and labor for its construction. The installation of the framework, which began Nov. 15, was handled by city crews.
The tree itself is 28 feet tall and has a four-foot star topper, all lit by around 6,400 lights, costing the city around $5,000, including controllers. They will be a part of the “dancing lights” computerized show in downtown Huntington, Caley says. The lights on the tree will twinkle in time – and color – to a series of Christmas tunes. It will be lit up in all directions.
The colorful show is being programmed by local volunteer Jesse Miskovich.
“He’s been handling all of the programming of the lights,” Caley says. “He’s doing a fantastic job.”
Miskovich, of Huntington, has a full-time job as a press operator at Continental Structural Plastics, but has a lights display business, Lights of the Night, on the side.
He got involved in high-tech light displays in 2005.
“I was in fifth grade and I saw a video of a light display on YouTube,” he recalls. “I basically just did some research and found out what it was all about and been hooked ever since.”
He says he has invested a lot of time into planning and programming the “mega tree” light show.
“I’ve put in over 600 hours,” he said. “It’s all been donated.”
Miskovich started with the design of the show, then used computer software to “sequence” each of the songs.
“That boils down to anywhere from 30 to 50 hours per song, to sequence it,” he adds.
The versatile “RGB” light bulbs contain red, green and blue light-emitting diodes, blending to create more than 16 million color hues using LED technology.
The show lasts about 20 minutes, and includes the songs “I Don’t Want to Spend Another Christmas Without You,” “Boogie Woogie Christmas,” “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.”
“They are upbeat, happy music,” he says. “A lot of the younger kids might try to dance to it. It’s a fun kind of music.”
The music to which the tree display will “dance” to can be heard on a regular FM radio. The computerized lights display with lights wrapped around the light poles lining the northern two blocks of Jefferson Street in the downtown area will be on a second radio frequency. That display was programmed by Chris Elston and members of the Huntington Robotics Team. Signs will be posted allowing motorists to find the frequencies on their vehicle radios.
In addition to the tree, Rotary Park will be adorned with smaller lighted features throughout the yard area, Caley says.
The entire display should be ready to light by Sunday, Nov. 27, the same day the lights at Sunken Gardens and Shakespeare Gardens at Memorial Park will be turned on. The lighting ceremony at Memorial Park is set to begin at 6 p.m.
Caley says some additional details, including garland, may be added to the giant Rotary Park tree next year.
“Being the first year, we’re still working out some bugs,” Caley says.