A 2006 Trans Siberian Orchestra concert serves as inspiration for one of the city's best holiday light displays, and though you won't find any 40-foot flames or deafening explosions at Dan and Bonnie Ackmann's home at 3808 S. 104th Street, the display is no less impressive.
The Ackmanns decked their house and set the lights to music back in 2007 and 2008 but took the last two years off while their son Andy, the project manager of sorts, lived in Iowa. This year, Andy and the lighted display are back
Andy Ackmann, a 2002 Whitnall High School graduate, is in charge of the computer software program that runs the show while his parents assume the responsibility for purchasing the lights. Andy and his father do most of the set-up, which can take 2-3 weeks to finish.
“Me and my dad set it up, but input comes from everyone, my mom and my sister,” Andy Ackmann said.
Fans of the festive fun are glad for the display's return.
"We're thrilled that your light show is back again. ... Thanks for bringing it back; it was fantastic as always!" Daven and Steph commented on Ackmann's website andyslights.com, which contains videos from Ackmann's 2007 and 2008 displays, a photo gallery and a guestbook.
According to the website, this year's display will run through Tuesday, Dec. 27. Show times are 6-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 6-9 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
This year’s display has five songs that take approximately 15 minutes to watch. The display causes some waves of traffic congestion along 104th Street, but Andy said his family does its best to keep the lights from becoming an inconvenience for the neighborhood.
“We have set hours, and start it late enough (6 p.m.) that we give people a chance to get home from work,” he said. “Most of the neighbors have been pretty good, their tolerance and us doing the most we can to minimize traffic.”
In previous years the Ackmanns collected food for Second Harvest at their home, but were concerned with people’s safety and decided against that this winter. But the Patch Deck the House contest fits right into their charitable thought process.
Andy Ackmann uploaded this video with the hopes of winning the grand prize - $100,000 for the Whitnall school district - or one of 24 runner-up prizes of $500 toward his December electric bill.
“I like idea of winning the contest, not for me but for the good of the community,” Andy Ackmann said. “I went to Whitnall, and it’d be awesome to win $100,000 for the district, especially with these tough economic times.”
And as for that electric bill, "it gets up into the multiple hundreds of dollars," Andy said, recalling bills from 2007 and 2008.
The Deck the House competition is accepting entries and votes through Dec. 26, so enter your house or vote for the Ackmanns' today.