'Light-O-Rama' debuts in Cape

Monday, December 4, 2006
Joe Morris stood outside his decorated home that offers more than meets the eye. The light display is synchronized with music, which visitors can hear on their car's FM radio. (Fred Lynch)

Clark Griswold could learn something about Christmas lights from Joe Morris.

In the movie National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation", Griswold -- played by actor Chevy Chase -- covers his entire home in Christmas lights.

But there's a far better light show taking place from 6 to 9 p.m. daily at 2206 Kent St.

Morris has created a computerized Christmas light display synchronized to holiday music at his Cape Girardeau home.

The display of 10,000 lights blink and twinkle, fade and shimmer to 10 different Christmas songs, which can be heard by turning the radio to 88.7 FM in front of Morris's house. It takes about 30 minutes to watch the entire display.

"I've been wanting to do this for a few years but didn't know the technology to buy," Morris said.

The display took Morris and his brother, Josh, about three days to set up. Lights are strung across the top of his roof, across his yard and a giant blown-up polar bear sits in his front yard next to several Christmas trees.

Morris used a computer program called Light-O-Rama to synchronize the music and lights. The music is programmed on an MP3 player and ran through an FM modulator so that people driving by can hear it on the radio.

In all, the Christmas lights and computer program cost Morris close to $1,000.

At night, Morris and his girlfriend, Dana Whaley, enjoy watching the traffic drive down the street.

"I think it's amazing what he's done," Whaley said. "I've tinkered with the computer program, but I can't even explain the technology that goes into this display."

The light display is only available for three hours a night.

"I don't want to bug the neighbors with all of the blinking lights," Morris said.

Next-door neighbor Wynn Bollinger said the display doesn't bother him or his family, who have sat on their front porch with a radio to watch Morris's light show.

"We think it's a real neat display," Bollinger said. "There are people who will sit in their cars for 15 to 20 minutes just watching it."

Roger Mealy, who recently moved out of his home on Kent Street, drove by the light display on Sunday night.

"It's a very cool display," Mealy said. "I think it's real neat that he did this."

Morris, who is the IT director at Orthopedic Associates, said he will continue the light display each Christmas.

"Hopefully, it will be bigger and better next year," he said.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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