A fan-favourite Christmas display is set to make a comeback beginning the first week of December.
The Maruk family Christmas lights, which have been an annual tradition in Stettler since 2014, are set to be enveiled in the first week of December, and run through Boxing Day, before taking a few days off.
Steve Maruk got the idea to do the display when he worked overseas in the oil-field.
“Some videos I saw on Youtube gave me the idea,” said Maruk.
“I thought ‘man, that’s pretty cool! What guy doesn’t want his house lit up like the Griswald’s?’”
Maruk was, of course, referring to the 1989 John Hughes directed Christmas classic Christmas Vacation. There is one scene in the film where the main character, Clark Griswald, played by Chevy Chase, turns on the house’s Christmas lights, of which there are so many they could be seen for miles, at least until they overloaded the electrical circuit.
The light system Maruk uses is significantly more high-tech than the system Griswald uses in the movie. All of the lights, which come in strings of 50 or 100 lights, are computer controlled, each with their own unique address, and each capable of producing a 16-million colour spectrum allowing for near-infinite customization.
“I started down the path of doing research,” said Maruk.
“Once I acquired all that stuff, it all has to come out of the United States, of course. I couldn’t find any Canadian vendors. Once I had all that stuff, I just added to it it every year.”
The show planned for this December has been in the planning stages since January.
“This year, with the supply shortages, I started planning this years show in January,” said Maruk.
“I’ve been working working on getting the background logistics in order. Things are starting to trickle in now. Hopefully the rest shows up before the snow flies.”
To design his shows, Maruk uses a program which allows him to import a a picture of the front of his home, and use it to map the strings of lights he is using, so he will know how the effect will look before a single string of lights gets plugged in.
“There is an exact bulb count on the string,” said Maruk.
“They each have an address in the computer. When I create the effects, it’s going to be really cool.”
Maruk doesn’t work on the project alone.
His spouse and children help out with building the light props, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, his kids ran a hot chocolate stand raising money to purchase toys for the Ronald McDonald House.
With the traffic the display generated, Maruk began accepting non-perishable foodbank donations in a bin in front of his home as a way to do something supportive with the display.
“It was really good,” said Maruk.
“We would get three or four truckloads a season down (to the foodbank), which seems to help them out.”
Unfortunately, with the ever-changing rules surrounding the pandemic, and after consultation with the Stettler Foodbank, the decision was made for the 2020 season to not take donations, and the decision has still not been made on whether Maruk will collect donations for them, or any other charity, this year.
Maruk’s plan is to run the lights from the beginning of December through to Boxing Day, then give the neighbour’s “a few nights off,” before firing up again for New Year’s Eve. In January, planning will begin again for the 2022 show.
The light display can found at 4209 63 St. by the Stettler Recreation Centre.