Main / Personal projects / Christmas Lights

December 25, 2011. When you turn down my parents’ street on Endicar Drive in the evening around Christmas time, you’re greeted by a bright display of many colors. For his first Christmas with grandkids, my father adorned his house on Endicar Drive with approximately 5,000 Christmas lights. The two neighbors on either side, on the right and left installed similar Christmas displays, with strings of lights connecting each of the five houses. Team Endicar has one of the best light displays in the Rochester area. With five houses directly connected, and one more with an extensive display up the street, the neighbors worked together to create an amazing effect. Here is a shot taken by my sister showing two of the five houses:

In the days before Christmas, hundreds of vehicles drove down our street to observe the display of Christmas spirit. Cars would drive slowly around the circle, sometimes stopping with their headlights off to see the lights in the dark. People would take pictures, and we even got a spontaneous round of applause the day before Christmas Eve! My Dad’s electric bill increases by $100/month during the weeks leading up to Christmas, but he says it’s worth it, because it makes so many people happy.

I was impressed with the number of spectators, so on December 22 I counted vehicles that drove down to see the lights. For 15 minutes in each hour, I counted all the vehicles that came in that interval. I directly observed a total of 46 vehicles, mostly cars.

Next, I plotted the number of cars at each 15 minute interval over time. The peak times occur between 7:30 and 8:30pm, with a steep drop-off after 8:30.

Linearly interpolating these counts to the unobserved intervals yields an estimate of 168 cars per night; probably several thousand people see these lights over the course of the Christmas season. But I think my dad would do it all just to see his grandkids smile when he takes them for walks around the yard.