By Alek O. Komarnitsky
‘Tis the holiday season and the Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac Disease are back online for the LAST year.Three live webcams and X10 technology allows web surfers to not only view the live action, but also *control* 20,000+ lights … plus inflate/deflate the giant 15′ Santa Balloon, Santa on Skis, in a Helicopter, and flying a Plane … along with Elmo, Frosty Family, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the Homer Simpson Santa – D’OH!The website is totally free (and totally fun) but also raises awareness and funds for charity via optional/voluntary donations – over $80,000 for the Center for Celiac Research. I’ve supported this world-class research organization for almost a decade and even though I found out last year that the original Celiac Diagnosis of my kids was a false positive (Email me for more details – nutshell summary is medical science is “hard” so not always 100% correct), I’m still helping them raise awareness and supporting research for an eventual cure.
For over a decade, Alek’s Controllable Christmas Lights have been an online festive holiday tradition for millions of Internet users world-wide … here’s an entertaining snippet of just some of the media attention. See how the Christmas Display has evolved from 1999 to present … and follow along this year on the Christmas Blog.
There are a myriad of hilarious stories through the years … most notably from 2002-2004 when the technology wasn’t quite there yet so I had to do a simulation – finally had to reveal as it got outa hand. There were many “challenges” doing it for real such as getting reliable wireless connectivity to the webcam at the neighbor’s house, replacing burnt out lights (one goes out, they all go out darnit!), squirrels chewing through the wires, water causing the GFCI’s to trip, swapping X10 Super Sockets in the power panel (often during sub-zero temperatures), dealing with 70+ MPH winds (the greatest enemy of holiday displays is winds), scouring garage and post-holiday 50-75% off sales for lights/decorations/inflatables, dealing with the media (they can be a PIA at times … but I did enjoy the Heli ride!), the occasional knucklehead on the Internet (more than balanced out by the 99.9% of folks who loved the interactive display), and having my family “put up” with my craziness – “Alek I need to drive out of the garage – can you please move Homer Simpson?” – D’OH! ;-)
It’s been a fun run … with the best part being the countless messages from people saying it has brought some joy into their lives. But it’s time to “retire” and wanted to finish “bright” in 2014.
A special thanks to my Mom who flies out most Thanksgivings to help me setup – that’s her in the last picture with the “Elmo Santa” she put together out of (literally) parts from Goodwill. And a Happy (decade) Birthday to my wonderful wife Wendy.
Merry Christmas and HO-HO-HO!