There’s no need to drive miles and miles in a hot, stuffy car to some congested urban area to view a massive, animated Christmas light display.
That’s because there’s one right in your own backyard thanks to Jason Hickmott.
The 1996 Oxford High School graduate is once again inviting folks to bathe in the warm, soft glow of the approximately 80,000 lights that blanket his home and property at 190 Amy Lynn Drive in Metamora Township. Amy Lynn Drive is off Metamora Rd., about a quarter mile north of Davison Lake Rd.
“I do it for my family and the children and families of our community,” he said. “I thought about not doing the show this year, but once I saw the disappointment (expressed) by many kids and families, I realized this is why I do it. I was born and raised in Oxford. I love this community and this is a way I can give back.”
Unlike most neighborhood holiday displays, Hickmott’s lights are all synchronized to music. Visitors can set their car radios to 100.1 FM and watch the colorful lights dance as part of a dazzling show set to a variety of classic Christmas tunes broadcast by Hickmott on the vacant channel (or unused frequency). Hickmott calls his seasonal radio station “The ELF.”
The show runs on a continuous loop from 5:45 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, it goes from 5:45 to 11 p.m. The show will run until Jan. 1.
“Usually, there’s eight to 10 cars out there. They just come and go all night,” Hickmott said. “We’ve had years where they’re lined up all the way down our street to Metamora Rd. and halfway to Davison Lake Rd.”
Hickmott has been doing his brand of over-the-top decorating since 2010. Back then, he had a mere 12,000 lights.
The next year, he increased it to 25,712, surpassing the number of lights strung by the fictional character Clark W. Griswold in the classic 1989 movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
In 2012, Hickmott doubled down, increasing the number of lights to 58,000 and enlisting the aid of a computer and the radio to bring movement and sound to his holiday extravaganza.
Hickmott’s animated display isn’t just about entertaining folks, it’s also a matter of necessity. He can’t have all of his lights burning simultaneously hour after hour because his house doesn’t have enough power to handle it. He’d be constantly tripping circuit breakers.
“As it is now, the lights in the house still dim all the time,” Hickmott said.
Over the years, he kept adding lights until he reached the current 80,000.
“Ninety-five percent of those lights are traditional incandescent lights,” he said.
That’s because modern LED lights are pricier and more difficult to find in clearance sales after the holidays, which is when Hickmott buys his lights.
“It just comes down to cost,” he said. “Usually, after Christmas, by the time they hit 80 percent (off), the LEDs are gone, but the incandescents are still there . . . I would prefer to go LED, but I can’t find the deal.”
Hickmott noted he’s been using many of his lights since 2010. He attributes their longevity to the fact that he takes care of them and doesn’t leave them outside any longer than necessary.
Weather-permitting, “I like to have everything down as soon as possible” after the holidays, he said. The more that lights are exposed to the sun, the more their brilliant colors fade.
“They don’t look as good as the ones that have been stored in a dark tote,” Hickmott said.
To keep everything lit, Hickmott has definitely cornered the market on extension cords. “Every strand of lights needs its own extension cord, so I can control it,” he said. “I don’t have an exact measurement, but we (have) well over a mile of extension cords.”
Hickmott has no plans to go beyond 80,000 lights. “You could always make it bigger, but I think bigger isn’t always better,” he explained. “I think it would take away from it. I’m filled from property line to property line. The only way to go bigger would be to starting stacking stuff.”
This season’s display almost didn’t happen.
“I wasn’t going to do it this year,” Hickmott said. “I decided back in the summer to just take the year off.”
But when some of his neighbors found out, expressed their disappointment to him and even offered to help assemble his humongous display, Hickmott gave in.
“It was very last-minute,” he said. “I decided to do it the day before we set it up.”
The work started on Nov. 7 and the switch was officially flipped Dec. 1.
It didn’t take nearly as long as years past to erect the display thanks to the extra pairs of helping hands and the way Hickmott keeps his lights organized and stored.
“I’ve got a good system now,” he said. “My goal is to always make it easier. It’s about as easy as it can get now for setup.”
Hickmott is grateful to the Oxford-based Carport Structures for once again providing him with a telehandler to help hang his lights. “A friend of ours works for them and he’s the operator of it,” he said. “That comes in very handy because they won’t let anyone operate it, except for their guy.”
Although Hickmott’s display is quite impressive and well beyond what the average homeowner does to celebrate the holiday season, don’t look for him to enter any contests or appear on television.
“I’ve had people suggest that, but I would never want to,” he said.
That’s because he wants his lights to bring joy to folks, not cause problems. He said once a display is part of a contest or featured on television “everybody and their brother shows up” to see it.
“The next thing you know, neighbors are mad, mailboxes are accidentally getting run over,” Hickmott said. “It’s just not worth it.”
Two mid-Michigan television news stations contacted him about promoting his light show via a list of holiday displays for their viewers, but he turned them down.
“We haven’t had any crazy traffic, so I think they listened,” Hickmott said.
For more information and updates about the local display, please visit the Facebook page entitled “Hickmott Family Christmas.”