What’s Happening?

September 28, 2015

Can’t believe that October is only two days away. But I can believe it when my desktop counter says the lights go on in one month and 28 days. It sure seemed like I had a lot more time in July. What’s that saying? Time flies when . . . You know the rest.

So what has been happening? Well a lot of time has been spent putting dumb pixels on the wire frames that were made by Wire Frame D’Lites.  The end product is really nice. Also with the pixels, I have a lot of control over the final color used. Here is an example:

Elf Judy


What you learn quickly is that some colors don’t look very good with one another. What you see started out as purple and pink. But it wasn’t much of a definition change, so Judy is now wearing green and red. If I come up with other color combinations, it isn’t much to try them out. And the elves can wave too. Check out the video page for a sample. The other elves are done as well as the pumpkin coach. I’m now working on the stagecoach.

I have had one setback in that all of the pixels ordered haven’t arrived, and I can’t get an answer as to when to expect them. I’m down to my last 442 and hope that they make it through the stagecoach build. But after that I’m stuck and I’ve got a lot more planned for the other 1,600 ordered. Plan B is in the works. I’m also waiting on three controllers from LOR, but that isn’t as big an issue as not having the pixels at this point. I know the LOR controllers will get here in plenty of time.

Oh, and Mary keeps reminding me that while the countdown clock says I have 1 month and 28 days until the lights go on, actually it is 7 days less than that when I take off with my cousin and her husband on a trip to Canada. Just have to keep my nose to the grindstone as they say.

What’s New for 2015?

July 13, 2015

Quite a bit in fact. New Elves. It will still be Elf Jingle, Jangle and Judy that you hear, but they will look a little different.

Our New Elves

Our New Elves

Building outlines:

The Beginning of Frames

The Beginning of Frames

These are the vertical frame pieces which are 6′ tall. The horizontal frame will be 10′ wide. We’ll piece the frames together so the scene on the left of the display, depicting some of the Plaza buildings, will consist of nine frames, 30′ X 18′. The scene on the right will be taken from the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop to the north of the display and will only have eight frames. We’ll have some animation in these two scenes.

And here is a general layout for this year’s display:

The Big View

The Big View

This was developed in January when Mary and I were brainstorming about the look of this year’s display. Since then we’ve added a few trees to each side of the buildings and removed one house from the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop.

Some of the mini-trees and a couple of the 6′ trees are going to be moved to the new location for the donation box. The hoped for end results will be more donations for the Olathe Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund.

We’ve replaced some of the songs from last year’s display and added new ones. Some traditional and one that is a play on Love Shack. It’s called Toy Sack.

Most everything will be lighted with pixels this year and not just LED lights. We’ve used smart pixels on the CCR tree for several years, but we’re going to incorporate dumb pixels this year. We will still have some LEDs on the trees throughout the display.

Some things won’t be changing. We’ll set up again at the Stagecoach Park just west of the Olathe Community Center. And the fighting snowmen will be back.

Stay tuned for more information as the clock ticks down to Thanksgiving evening.

Nice Surprise

March 13, 2015

Today Mary and I received the following:

Thank You From Mayor Copeland

Thank You From Mayor Copeland

We certainly weren’t expecting a thank you from Mayor Copeland, which made it that much nicer.

We have also been asked to participate in the next Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund Board meeting on March 24. At that time we’ll solicit Board Member’s input on what might be done to encourage a greater level of donations this year. We have some ideas along those lines and will see what the Board Members think of them.

We have also been asked to provide our thinking as to how the display may change or stay the same. We have some ideas formulated and we are in the process of implementing them. Or at least focusing on what can be done in such a short period of time. Only eight months and 13 days before the lights go on. As we move closer to that date, we’ll share some of those plans and how we are progressing in getting them implemented.

Where to Start?

March 2, 2015

It has been over two months since my last post on Christmas Day, so catching you up can be a challenge. But let’s start here:

The 2014 lights display ran from Thanksgiving night through New Year’s Day (One more day than advertised)

36 days the show ran

172 hours of show time

$1,358.96 in donations collected for the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund (more on the Donation’s page)

Approximately 1,200 cars stopped by to see the show (Olathe Parks & Rec installed a traffic counter)

Seventeen friends and family help set-up the Christmas Lights Display

Eight friends and family dismantled the display on January 2, 2015

Brett, Tyson, Tom, Charley, Jim, Tom and Bill, with Tracy capturing the moment

Brett, Tyson, Tom, Charley, Jim, Tom and Bill, with Tracy capturing the moment

Eight employees of the Olathe Parks & Rec Dept. delivered the display items to Stagecoach park on November 21, 2014 and picked them up to store them on January 5, 2015

We didn’t know what this year would hold, moving from an established site in Prairie Village for three years, but our experience with the Olathe Parks & Recreation Department and the Olathe Community Center was spectacular. Everyone was so cooperative and helpful through each phase of the set-up and tear-down of the display. And storing the display items in a secure Olathe Parks & Rec building is very reassuring. We are also thankful for all those who came out to see this year’s display.

And speaking of people coming to see the show, we had one special person all the way from NYC who stopped this year. But this should tell you all about it:

Note From Linda Jones Pg 01Note From Linda Jones Pg 02And here’s the note that Grace sent us:

Note From Grace InsidesNow you know why we do the display ever year. For Grace and all who come and enjoy it.

We’ve posted a few videos that will give you a feel for the scope of the display, but nothing is as good as seeing it in person. We have a few more to edit and post, but not sure that will happen because we are deep into planning this year’s show. But more on that later.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2014

Charlie Brown: Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?!

Linus: Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please?

And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

KC Star Article

December 18, 2014

Another nice  mention of our display, this time in the 913 section of the Kansas City Star.

img643img641Here is a link to the article which contains a few more pictures.

Light Nanny On Duty

December 14, 2014

For those who have a Christmas lights display, whether it be a traditional static display, or one like ours at Stagecoach park that is sequenced to music, we all have something in common. Lots of extension cords that lay on the ground and when charged, don’t interact well with water that may fall upon those cords.

We have fought the battle every year. Several years ago we introduced dielectric grease any place one male plug met a female plug. We even put grease in the female ends of plugs even if it wasn’t mated with a male plug. A couple of years I even plugged up a lot of those female ends with hot glue.

Then there is the task to make sure none of the plug ends are resting on the ground. We zip tie them to a structure or put a Tupperware container around them when no structure is near.
26132 (Copy)
26138 (Copy)
Then we “bag” all of our controllers in another attempt to keep the water away from the electricity.
26135 (Copy)

But we still have problems from time to time and without our lookout in Mike J, Brett has developed the Light Nanny. Since we are 15 minutes away from the display, we don’t know when a circuit pops, so Brett has a solution. The Light Nanny monitors one of the most susceptible circuits and sends me a Text message when the circuit isn’t detected during the light show. It also sends me a daily message at 4:30 to let me know if the circuit is recognized or not. If the circuit isn’t recognized, it gives me time to get to the display and hopefully fix things before the show starts at 5:30.
Here is Brett working on installing the Light Nanny.
006 (Copy)

So now the Light Nanny is on duty when next it rains, which, according the the local forecasters, is tonight. We’ll see what happens and hopefully, no message about a blown circuit is received.

PVPost.com Story

December 3, 2014

I was wondering when the PVPost.com would publish something about our move from Prairie Village to Olathe and they did it yesterday. Here is a link to their story, which was very positive. Maybe this is where the “famous” came from.

“Famous” Display on TV

December 3, 2014

Got a call yesterday afternoon, December 2, from Channel 41. They wanted to do a spot on their 10pm news program about the display moving from Prairie Village to Olathe. Take a look on the Video page at the very quick segment which Brett captured and posted on Vimeo. We didn’t realize it was famous.

Tonight’s The Night

November 27, 2014

It all comes down to tonight, Thanksgiving night, when the 2014 version of the Dorr Family Christmas Lights Display goes on for real. All of the hours of work that went into planning and sequencing and building come down to this night. But let me regress just a little.

Last Friday, November 21, started out in Prairie Village where four trucks from the Olathe Parks and Recreation Department, one towing a trailer, arrived at one of the Public Works Department buildings at 8:30am to pick up the Christmas display elements that have been stored there since the tear down on January 1, 2014. All went well and we headed for the new location in Stagecoach Park at 9:40. Arriving at a little after 10, we started the unloading process and relative placement of everything. We are so fortunate to have a great cast of characters who consistently help us out with the installation year after year. Here is a picture of that wonderful group:

During the Installation of the Christmas Lights Display

During the Installation of the Christmas Lights Display

Things went very well with the set-up of the 21′ CCR tree, seen in the background, as well as the relative placement of other elements. But then the rains came and after hoping they would pass by, we called it quits at 2:50. Much earlier than anticipated.

Several of us returned the following day to move forward and a lot got accomplished. Started and finished as a cold gray day, but you have to work in the elements to get things going.


This was a long day, but very gratifying. Everything in placed, staked down, and ready to be connected. We were all tired, so decided to take Sunday off. However, the weather was so nice, compared to the other days and the forecast ahead, so we were back at it. A smaller group, but this was the day to connect each element to their respective controllers. Much better to do it in 50º weather than 30º days. Unfortunately the rain returned, but after a break in the Community Center, we finished up and were ready to test on Monday.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were testing days. What worked and what didn’t. We found some light strings out, so those got replaced. The biggest “problem” encountered was the CCR tree showing everything in a mirror mode to what it should be. We learned that the controllers were placed backwards to their respective CCR tree leg, so we had to swap them out. Two of the cosmic color ribbons had bad pixels, so those had to be swapped out. And we also learned that the pixels didn’t line up, which meant taking down 13 of the 16 tree legs and moving them up or down so they would all line up. We could only make those changes with bare hands in upper 30º temps with a windchill around 20º. Not fun with the fierce north wind blowing.

So tonight at 5:30pm, the show begins and runs through New Year’s Eve. Hope you can make it out to see it. And for those living outside the KC area, we’ll get some videos up as soon as practical. Enjoy.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers