by Laura Bednar
It was Jessie Hein’s love of the holiday season that fueled him to create an annual light display in Eaton Estate that just keeps growing.
“This is our fourth year doing it,” said Hein, adding that his neighbors on Acadia Drive urge him each year to continue the tradition.
Hein and his wife are originally from the Cleveland area but lived in Las Vegas for a period of time. The Christmas season in the neon city was not an ideal area or climate for large-scale decorating, so when the couple moved to Eaton Estate in 2017, they made a display for the community to enjoy.
“Christmas is something I was dialed into as a kid,” said Hein. “I saw the window spaces and ridge lines [on the house] and it gave me ideas.”
The display began modestly with lights, a 15-foot-tall tree and a miniature tree. The lights had a twinkling effect but no music. Hein said he added more each year, and now the display features a 15-foot-tall tree, a 27-foot-tall tree and 25,000 pixel lights synchronized to music.
The Heins partner with Pixel Pro Displays to purchase pre-packaged sequencing, which includes a base layout for the lights and allows them to customize the display.
A pixel light differs from the norm in that each pixel on a light strand is controllable, according to learnchristmaslighting.com. Each pixel includes a red, green and blue light. This is the same technology used for a flat screen television picture. Hein said the lights have the same technical makeup but come in different shapes and sizes.
“The pixels on the roof are a throwback to the old larger-style bulbs from the 1980s,” he said.
The garage door has almost 4,000 pixels spaced two inches apart to create a screen which shows moving patterns, or in some cases characters from movies such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
A forest of 400 pixels is arranged in the front yard, and Hein uses almost a dozen power sources to support the elements. “It’s five volts per pixel to keep the energy bill low,” said Hein.
It takes the couple 7 to 10 days to get everything set up, but what brings it all together is music coordinated with the movement of the lights. Last year, the display featured 14 songs, running about an hour. This year there are 20 songs. “If you see the display twice in one day, you probably won’t hear the same songs,” said Hein.
Using computer software to address each pixel, Hein adds lighting effects to each element of the yard based on a timeline following the music. A central computer addresses a specified number of pixels on a string.
Hein said the display can be as complicated as he wants it to be, and he can sequence any song. Visitors will likely hear some classic holiday tunes, but the majority of the music is holiday-themed contemporary Christian, which Hein said is to “remind people of the reason for the season.”
Hein said he loves that people get into the spirit of Christmas, even if they add a few lights to their own yards.
The target date for launching the display is Thanksgiving night at 7 p.m. The light and music show will continue weekdays and Sunday from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visitors can drive to 8456 Acadia Dr. to see the display through Jan. 2.
Outdoor speakers will play the music, but families who stay in their cars can tune into a radio station, which will be posted in the yard. A new addition this year will be a donation box and posted QR code for people to donate to the Summit County Humane Society. Hein said a silent donor is willing to match donations up to $5,000. ∞
The Heins’ light display on the garage is made up of 4,000 pixels spaced two inches apart. Above is a scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” shown as an introduction to the light show. Photo submitted.
On our cover (photo): Residents at 8456 Acadia Dr. in Eaton Estates have grown their holiday display over the past four years, which culminated in a synchronized light and music show open for viewing from the end of November through Jan. 2. Photo submitted.