Local Lights Up Sky

CELINA — When people tell Eric Lochtefeld his light show is part of their Christmas or Halloween tradition, he said he laughs.

“Because this is the third year,” he said, noting it is only the second year for the Halloween display of lights.

Yet, when he was a few days behind putting his lights up last year, that’s what he heard from people asking him when the program would be up, and letting him know they brought their grandchildren and came every year.

“A few days late, and people are really anxious,” Lochtefeld said.

The Halloween display started the first weekend in October and will continue through Halloween, after which Lochtefeld will go dark to set up his next display opening Thanksgiving night, when the Christmas lights are scheduled to go live.

Lochtefeld, 19, designs the lighting program at his neighbors’ house at 8525 Howick Road, just off Harris Road close to both Ohio 33 and Ohio 29.

The idea to design a program came from his 4-H advisors, the Matthews family, owners of the house. On the way to a fall banquet they told Lochtefeld they used to decorate extensively at Christmas and would like to do it again.

Lochtefeld said he’d do the lights and music program, so teaming up, they ordered their first controller, and got a program ready to go Thanksgiving night three years ago. Last year, they added Halloween, just on the front of house, and jumped all the way across the driveway.

For people who saw the show last year, Lochtefeld said the program is more dense, using concepts he learned in ACDC this summer — the American Christmas Decorators Conference in Indianapolis. This year features all new RGB lights, which Lochtefeld said he can mix together to create about 3 million combinations. It also allows him to use the same lights for Halloween as he uses at Christmas.

The display features pumpkins in the yard and singing faces on the roof outlined color, and involves music, so it is best taken in with the car windows down to appreciate the way the music and lights work together.

Calling the display “Celina Sequence Lights,” Lochtefeld made a Facebook page to get user feedback.

“It’s pretty advanced software for the controller,” he said. “In RGB there are hundreds of channels. When we started we had 16 channels ... Getting the lights up is only a little bit of work compared to the sequencing.”

The computer networking major is in his first year at UNOH, so he said the technical aspect does fit his personality, but isn’t really what he’s looking at as a career.

“I really picture it just as hobby,” Lochtefeld said.

“Businesses asked if I could do this for them in the past, and  normally I said no, but this year I’m going to dabble at it, for one business and a light parade. I would love this to be a career but I want to be realistic. The holidays are only three months a year.”