The Elves Are Waiting

December 19, 2015
Jingle, Jangle & Judy

Jingle, Jangle & Judy

Yes, the three elves are waiting to see you at the Dorr Family Christmas Lights Display this big weekend/week before Christmas. All is up and running. The CCR tree is all decked out and playing five songs, with the elves singing along with two of them. The snowball fight is back and the snowballs are flying all over the place. The pumpkin carriage is rolling along in front of the Plaza lights, and the stagecoach is doing the same over by the farmstead. And we continue to accept your kind contributions to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund. Thanks for your contribution.

It may be cold outside, but you’ll be snug and warm in your car, listening to the lights on 100.9 FM. Come check out one of the ten best Christmas Lights Displays in the Kansas City area, according to KC Parent (

On With The Show

December 2, 2015

After a lot of soldering, testing, soldering, testing, Brett and I have the show going for tonight and hopefully, from this day forward through New Year’s Eve. No reason to get into what happened, other than the rain sure caused havoc with our CCR tree, but the testing appears to have gone well this afternoon, as much as I could tell looking into the sun. We’ll know more in a little over an hour when the sun is down.

Thanks for being patient through this dark period. We have never been down for three days in all the years we have been putting on an animated display. Just need the bad times to appreciate the good ones.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

November 30, 2015

It has been raining almost continuously since Thanksgiving day and it is suppose to continue into Monday. It has drastically impacted the big CCR tree, so much so, that for the first time in 10 years, we physically pulled the plug on the display tonight. Nine out of sixteen CCR strips showed water intrusion, causing most of the pixels in those strings to light up, even though no program was going. We ran the show this afternoon, but the pixels that were stuck on due to the water, overpowered the program. Just a terrible situation. It looked a mess. We have some spare CCRs and were going to trade them out, but there are just too many that are bad. We just need to wait until the rain quits, take down the offending CCRs, dry them out, and put them back up, once they have been tested and approved for action.

We are so sorry this has happened on our first weekend of the 2015 show. Certainly nothing we planned for, or expected. We are aiming to get the show up Wednesday, so stay tuned for an update.

New Tune To Frequency

November 23, 2015

Well it was bound to happen. The FM frequency we have used the last several years now has a new inhabitant. So we moved our frequency up a few notches. From now on, or at least in 2015, the lights can be heard on

100.9 FM

We’ve tested the sound and it will work out just fine. So come on out beginning in four days and see for yourself.

This Is The Week

November 17, 2015

Yep, the week of this year’s installation. We had planned to start on Friday, but Marty with the Olathe Parks & Rec wanted to start Thursday. We are starting Thursday, and from the looks of the weather forecast, makes a lot of sense. Temps in the 50s Thursday and Friday, then falling to the lower 40s over the weekend. And that’s the high.

We’ve got a great crew lined up to help us kick things off for the big reveal on Thanksgiving night. Brett has just landed in San Francisco and will be home later today. Jim is driving over from St Louis tomorrow morning. We’ll miss Tyson who has added so much over the years. But we’ve got a super group of family and friends that have “volunteered” to do their part. Without them, the show would be a bust. Pictures of the install to follow, taken by granddaughter Taylor.

Just so much happening and so little time. The screens were finished over the weekend and I can’t wait to see how reality compares to what I see in my mind.

On of the Plaza buildings

On of the Plaza buildings

It is always interesting to add new display pieces each year and formulate how they will be erected. Our screens, when tied together, will be 30′ wide and 18′ tall. That’s quite a structure to put up. And then the challenge is to keep it up. We had some big winds roll through a few days ago, so I’m trying to build the screens to withstand that kind of pressure.

The big challenge right now is to complete the sequencing in between everything else. The elves have recorded their part, and now it is up to me to make their voices come together through our new wire frames built by Doug at Wire Frames D’Lite. How will they look 40′ away from the cars? I see awesome. So back to it.

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.


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