Alpena local begins holiday-themed light show tradition
ALPENA — What originally started as Halloween decorations at 227 W. Washington Ave. has turned into one of Alpena’s Christmas traditions as a holiday-themed light show.
Kevin Wheeler, resident of the house and creator of the light display, started his hobby about 10 years ago when he made his own lights to display and put on a show.
He said that he enjoyed making a larger display for Halloween, but knew that if he didn’t do anything for Christmas, people might find it odd and want him to do other holidays.
Back then, Wheeler didn’t have the money to purchase lights, so he made his own. As he saved funds over the years and found better ways to put on the light show, his displays became larger and more complex.
“I didn’t do it all at once,” Wheeler said. “When you live on a budget, you can only buy what you can afford. So each year is a little bit more and a little bit more until you save and come up with a new idea.”
Wheeler said that over 8,000 miniature lights are around the home’s exterior and decorations.
They hang on window sills, a snowman, a reindeer, and the large hand-crafted Christmas tree with 2,000 lights aligned.
Every individual bulb is linked to a computer program Wheeler uses, which he can manipulate to make the lights and decorations sing along to music he broadcasts to radios around the block.
“I play “How Much is that Doggie in the Window,”” Wheeler said. “Well on the tree, I’ll say ‘adopt a pet.’ Many people get pets for Christmas, I mean, a little girl in the backseat of a car watching this might still be bugging dad. So, they may not be Christmas songs, but they’re Christmas-related. I try to stay traditional, but I also do entertainment.”
Wheeler says that closer to Christmas day, the light show gets more traffic and cars will line up in the parking lot of Wilson’s Lasting Expressions to see the performance.
According to him, the reactions he gets from people watching are the highlight of his hobby.
“The best part about it is seeing the reaction of the people for Christmas, especially when it gets closer to Christmas Eve. We’ll have traffic out here, there will be a line almost all the way down the street and people line up to watch the show — that’s the excitement. Lots of people come here to look at it.”
Wheeler also has two Facebook pages dedicated to each holiday, titled “Alpena Lights Christmas” and “Alpena Lights Halloween.”
Each page gives a Friday to Monday schedule of when the light displays will go off, which radio frequency to set your car radio to for the show, and any updates, videos, or articles Wheeler wants to show fans.
“It’d be nice to have competition across the street,” Wheeler said. “I won’t do it for them, but I’ll help them out. It’s just a hobby that I started and I’m happy people see it and I’m happy to share.”
The light show on Fridays and Saturdays start from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and the Sunday and Monday shows start from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The frequency of the music station is 102.3 FM.
The light display ends its run after the New Year’s Eve showing.