CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINMENT: Watts Up lights up neighborhood
Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 18:58 PM.
CRESTVIEW — The Neville family has a free gift for the community. Their nightly synchronized light show not only lights up their Shoal Lake neighborhood, but also the faces of all who gather in their cul-de-sac to watch the display.
Amy Neville gives all the credit to her husband Mike, a weapons standardization supervisor at Hurlburt Field, and their daughter Kaelyn, 8, who inspired the project.
“We always had a static display and I finally let him go animated,” she said. “He and my oldest daughter built most of the stuff in the front yard.”
“The stuff” features the 20-foot “mega-tree,” a dazzling 13,000-light beacon for the neighborhood, with four 6-foot brothers (2,400 lights each) and 11, 400-light “smaller brothers” clustered around it. In all, 30,000 lights, counting extraneous stars and other sparklies, dance synchronized to half-hour programs of eclectic music.
“It appeals to a wide range of tastes,” Matt Neville said. “We keep it family friendly. Our show definitely runs the gamut, from big band to jazz to hard rock. Each song is edited down to two minutes, so if you pull up and it’s not a song you like, the next one will come along quickly.”
Kaelyn provided inspiration for the display when, soon after the family arrived in Crestview seven years ago, saw a lavish lights display while the family drove home from the city’s Christmas parade. “Big lights, Daddy!” she exclaimed. “Big lights” became the goal, and this summer, the family started planning the show they call “Watts Up Crestview.”
The day after Thanksgiving, Watts Up Crestview lit up the sky over Renee Court. The show does more than give pleasure to folks who find the street a few blocks off John King Road. A box at the end of the driveway also allows viewers to give a donation to Special Olympics, a cause which Matt Neville supported while the family was stationed in Alaska.
What Matt calls “mission control” is his laptop computer out in the garage running a program called Light-O-Rama. Hours of programming time, with new songs being added every couple of days, synched the many strands of lights to the rhythm of the music.
When the bass of Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” starts playing, the lights start blasting to the beat. But when the U.S. Navy Band’s “Dueling Jingle Bells,” a catchy tune á la Flatt and Scruggs’ “Dueling Banjos,” plays, the lights start chasing each other around the lawn.
“When I heard that song, I said, ‘That’s going in,’” Matt said. “You really can play all the trees with it.”