If you didn't read part 1, you'll find it here.
The night I turned them on for the first time, I stood in the street with this huge grin on my face. After all the planning, building, programming and setting up, it actually worked! A few little tweaks needed to be adjusted, like one of the arches was leaping backwards and some of the bushes weren't lighting up correctly, but 15 minutes later, everything was running perfect. Now to wait for my audience. Nobody came. Ha!
It took a couple of nights, but people eventually started stopping and wondering why all the lights were blinking on and off in a pattern that didn't seem random. Some folks didn't realize they were synchronized to music since I had the songs broadcast through an FM transmitter so the neighbors wouldn't have to listen to speakers blaring all the time. When I pointed out the lit up sign displaying the correct FM channel, they got it and then you would see their faces light up. Sure was a lot better with the music, they would say.
As the holiday season progressed that first year, people would tell other people and they would e-mail their friends who would facebook somebody else and pretty soon I was having crowds of folks all just from word of mouth. I didn't want to be on the news or in the paper, so I didn't solicit any of that, and as it turned out, I really didn't need any advertising. By the week of Christmas, cars were wrapped around the block from 7:30 until 9:30. I started to get concerned. Maybe it was going to get out of hand. Luckily it never did.
The good things about that first year were numerous. The neighbors didn't seem to mind (at least they didn't tell me), everyone who saw it loved it, people for the most part were well behaved with the exception of a few I'll mention in a moment, people would clap when they would see me walking around the display, attending to some minor maintenance or checking wiring and set-up. On Luminary night, I received numerous standing ovations and even one, "I'm gonna do this next year." I tried to warn the fellow about what he was getting into, but he didn't seem to care. I still don't know if he ever followed through or not.
I even had one couple send me a Christmas card with money in it to help pay for the electric bill. That floored me. But the thing that touched me the most was the little 5 year old girl who insisted on giving my wife $5.00 of her allowance so we would keep doing it every year. Her parents wouldn't take the money back and said it was what she wanted to do. These are the ones that make my decision not to do the show this year regrettable. I'm sure I've let some people down.
Tomorrow, in part 3, the bad things that have happened.