Covering the house and front yard in flashing, strobing, brilliant Christmas lights always felt like a great way to usher in the holiday spirit.
But as Daniel and Tina Falks were preparing their Bargersville home this year, they wondered: What if he could use his lights to do even greater good?
“We have four kids, and we’re really struggling to help them understand the value of giving. We want them to understand that they’re fortunate, and there are a lot of people out there who are not fortunate,” Tina Falks said. “We want them to experience the joy of giving.”
The Falkses have once again created a dynamic light show outside their home, featuring LED screens, synchronized music and thousands of lights. But while people are drawn to the lights, the Falkses will also be collecting food and toys for the Julian Center, an Indianapolis-based agency that supports victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and other crises.
Daniel Falks will be dressing as Santa, and with the help of Tina Falks and their children, they’ll be passing out candy canes to people who come by. A mailbox will let kids mail their letters to Santa.
The idea is to capture the true meaning of the Christmas season — not only bringing enjoyment to people driving by looking at the lights, but also helping children and women in the community who are struggling this holiday season.
“I find Christmas lights so much fun, to drive through the neighborhoods and seeing what everyone’s doing,” Daniel Falks said. “This year, having a cause definitely makes it that much more exciting.”
Daniel Falks does the lights because he loves it. But being able to help the Julian Center adds another dynamic.
“It makes sense, and will hopefully get more donations, because people can donate new or gently used toys as well as food. It’s not like a traditional toy drive,” Tina Falks said.
The idea to add a charity component to the light display started when they were joking around planning this year’s display. They joked about Daniel Falks dressing up as Santa, which evolved to include a benefit for a worthy cause.
The family will be out collecting donations for the Julian Center from 7 to 9 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays — today, Dec. 16 and Dec. 23.
Falks started decorating in Bargersville in 2014. When he was growing up in Texas, every house seemed to be aglow with lights during the holidays. He liked the spirit that community decorating fostered, and wanted to establish that when he moved here.
“It’s amazing how everything has grown. That first year, I was duct taping things together and putting it up any way I could. Now, it’s a little more organized.”
The light display, which was started at their previous home in Bargersville and expanded when they moved to the Manor at Sommerset neighborhood in 2016, is dominated by blue and white lights.
Small alternating trees are set up in the front yard, along with a larger conical “tree” created by drooping light strands from a pole. Blue and white lights race and chase around the eaves of the roof, and a glittering snowflake strobes above the door.
In the years since Falks started his display, he’s also added a series of high-tech additions. A pixel screen is programmed to show different Christmas scenes and images from holiday classics, while a pixel arch features dozens of different colors. In one of the front windows, a projector shows Santa Claus.
“Last year, we got a lot of comments from people how the kids loved to see Santa,” Tina Falks said.
Daniel Falks estimates it took him 80 hours to build the entire display. Programming the music and sequencing added time this year, after the computer files that he had built in the past were accidentally erased.
But it’s all worth it when cars line up and people stare in wonder at the lights. That feeling should only increase as more and more donations to the Julian Center come in.
“We’re kind of excited to see how many people come by,” Daniel Falks said. “We’re going to make the kids get dressed up as little elves, to get them more involved. I hope they see the look on people’s faces and learn about the joy of giving.”