published Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Playlist of 10 songs synced to 16,000 lights makes Hixson home a holiday drive-by


by Cody Schmelter
Preview the Muncy's 16,000 light display
If You Go

-- What: 7303 McCormack Drive.

-- When: 6-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday.

-- Tune in: Set your radio dial to 95.5 FM to hear the music.

-- Directions: Take Highway 153 North across Chickamauga Dam. Pass Northgate Mall and stay on 153, then make a right turn onto Boy Scout Road just before reaching Highway 27. Go 1.5 miles down Boy Scout, take a left onto South Bent, which will dead end into Coffelt. Turn left at the stop sign, take first right onto McCormack. It’s first house on the left.

  • photo
    The Christmas light show, dubbed “Magic on McCormack,” is seen on display at the Muncy home.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    The Christmas light show, dubbed “Magic on McCormack,” is seen on display at the Muncy home.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    Wes Muncy demonstrates the program used to sync his 16,000-light display to music at his home in Hixson. Muncy said it takes about an hour to sync just 10 seconds of music.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    The Christmas light show, dubbed “Magic on McCormack,” is seen on display at the Muncy home.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

Spectacular Shows

Times Free Press readers shared these locations for viewing holiday lights:

Cleveland: Key Street at Peerless Road; 3787 Blue Springs Road at Old Federal Road.

East Ridge: Helton hill on Fountain Avenue between Belvoir and Germantown roads; 3907 S. Mission Oaks Drive.

East Brainerd: 2411 Cedar Creek Drive; Daugherty Drive off Standifer Gap Road.

Harrison: Hilltop farm on Highway 58.

Hixson: 435 Peyton Drive.

North Chattanooga: Highland Drive at Westwood Drive.

Ringgold, Ga.: 962 Castleview Drive.

Soddy-Daisy: 11632 Jenkins Road

On the Web

Go to timesfreepress.com to see a brief video of the Muncy’s light show. Go to www.ChattanoogaNow.com for an interactive map of Holiday Lights & Sights.

If You Go

What: 7303 McCormack Drive.

When: 6-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday.

Tune in: Set your radio dial to 95.5 FM to hear the music.

Directions: Take Highway 153 North across Chickamauga Dam. Pass Northgate Mall and stay on 153, then make a right turn onto Boy Scout Road just before reaching Highway 27. Go 1.5 miles down Boy Scout, take a left onto South Bent, which will dead end into Coffelt. Turn left at the stop sign, take first right onto McCormack. It’s first house on the left.

After lighting up their Hixson home for three years with static light displays, Wes and Susan Muncy decided to animate them.

“We have always enjoyed putting up Christmas lights — maybe a little too much. We don’t have any kids. We mostly do it for our own enjoyment and as a gift for others to enjoy during the holidays,” says Wes. “We had seen videos online of animated shows so we started looking into what it took to make it all work.”

The Muncys debuted “Magic On McCormack” last year, a synchronized show of 10,000 lights dancing to seven songs. Pulsating light strands outlined the front windows and door. Lights flashed on and off across six small trees and a mega tree. And to emphasize song finales, the entire home’s roofline would light up with icicle lights flashing across the eaves.

“We had a blast showing it to people,” says Wes.

On Nov. 1, the Muncys began work to make this year’s light show even bigger and better.

The extravaganza includes 16,000 lights connected by more than 2,000 feet of extension cords, according to the couple. White icicle lights and multicolor bulbs flash on and off to a playlist of 10 songs. Wes adds that, as a courtesy to their neighbors, its sound is not audible unless visitors tune their car radios to 95.5 FM.

Wes says their winter electrical bill averages $170 a month, but when the lights are running it increases to $250. Still, he says that total is considerably less than those from their previous light displays.

“All it takes is seeing one kid’s face light up in amazement watching the lights and it makes it all worthwhile,” he says.

Here’s how it works:

Conducting a symphony of lights: The Muncys bought four Light-O-Rama controllers, off-the-shelf computer boards connected in a network and suggested for residential use. Each controller has 16 channels for a total of 64 controllable channels.

“This year we also added some RGB elements, where each light is controllable and can produce any color you want,” adds Wes. “We have 309 controllable RGB channels. Everything is sequenced and controlled by a PC running the Light-O-Rama. We added leaping arches and spotlights, two 10-foot poles that bounce up and down and a 7-foot spinning spiral tree.”

Their playlist for a 30-minute show: “Christmas Eve Sarajevo,” “Christmas Canon” and “Wizards in Winter,” all by Trans-Siberian Orchestra; “Snoopy vs. Red Baron,” by the Royal Guardsmen; “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” by Fall Out Boy; theme from the “Christmas Vacation” movie by Mavis Maples and a clip from the movie; Disney’s “Reflections of Earth” from EPCOT Center; the THX movie intro by Pixar. The 10th selection is a Christmas mash-up of classic songs such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” with current pop hits like “What Does the Fox Say.” It ends with Peanuts’ Linus sharing the real meaning of Christmas and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Vote for your favorite: This year the Muncys added a new program that allows visitors to interact with the show and vote for their favorite song. Viewers go to miip.mobi on a smartphone, choose “Magic On McCormack” and vote for the song they want to hear. The song with the most votes will automatically play next.

“If people are voting, it doesn’t necessarily play in the same order twice, but if people are just watching, then it will play all songs and start over in a loop,” explains Wes.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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