Businesses around the country are creating complex and costly light shows to spread happiness this holiday season.
From Maine to California, more and more light shows have been set up during the coronavirus pandemic. They are more complex than ever, with many bright and sparkling lights.
"They're exploding because people are looking for something to do. That has been a boom for this business," said Wayne Wheeler. His company, Reindeers Incorporated, imports lights and other equipment used in the professionally produced shows.
Lighting displays during the holidays have long been an American tradition. People often drive through neighborhoods to look at the colorful lights. The professional productions take it to another level, with hundreds of thousands of lights, synchronized music, animated props, and other lights.
The pandemic appears to have made light shows more popular in America. And commercial light shows have been showing up in fair grounds, farms, zoos, and parking lots, some in the industry said.
Enjoying outdoor lights on foot, or from inside a car, is a safe activity while COVID-19 infection numbers are rising. Ticketing is often done online, and tickets can be electronically confirmed through a car window.
E.J. Dean is the creator of the first "Maine Celebration of Lights" at the Cumberland Fair Grounds.
He said he created the event to keep his workers employed after the pandemic almost closed his business. His company provides park rides and games, all of which were canceled in 2020.
Inventor Thomas Edison is credited with creating the first string of lightbulbs in 1880. In 1923, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge started a new tradition by lighting the National Christmas Tree with 2,500 electric lights. The tradition started getting popular after that.
Most major cities have one or more light shows. Large events designed to be seen from cars are now popular.
The "Big Bright Light Show" in Rochester, Michigan, covers a big part of the town. The "Winter Light Spectacular" at the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Pennsylvania had performances for children by Disney characters. Both have more than 1 million lights.
密歇根州罗彻斯特的Big Bright Light Show覆盖了该镇的很大一部分。宾夕法尼亚州利哈伊谷动物园的“冬季灯光秀”为孩子们带来了迪士尼角色的表演。这两场灯光秀都有超过100万颗灯珠。
Light shows are also becoming costly. For Texas-based Extreme Lightscapes, the average budget for a holiday light show with music is $500,000.
"Everybody continues to try to outdo each other in terms of size, scope, and technological complexity," said company head Darren Vader.
Such events are run by businesses, nonprofit organizations and cities.
Many of the operators, however, started with shows at their homes before deciding to get into the business, said Matt Reed. He is with Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Products. The Arizona-based business provides lights for companies and cities.
"You feel a difference when there's a lot of love behind the project," he said. "It's not just a job for them."
I'm Dan Novak.