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Visual supernova makes its move

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The scene looked like a something out of rush hour traffic in a major metropolis, not a Whiteland neighborhood.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic stretched through the suburban streets and out onto U.S. 31. They were waiting patiently, sometimes for an hour or more, to see the animated winter wonderland that Steve Cisco had created in his yard.

Choreographed with music broadcast on a short-band radio, they could see strands of lights on bushes flicker on and off with the beat. A 17-foot-high Christmas tree made of LED ribbons displays colors, pictures and words like a television screen.

“It was too much. There was so much traffic, I had to pay off-duty police officers to direct cars,” Cisco said.

So he formed a partnership with someone who could handle the traffic. Cisco’s display has been transplanted to Rascal’s Fun Zone in Whiteland. The miniature golf course, unused in the winter, is now the site of thousands of pixilated lights set to the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

“We have an indoor park that’s open year-round, but our outdoor park is closed in the winter. I saw Steve’s work and thought it might be a cool thing,” Rascal’s owner Rick Smith said.

Cisco had been creating a Christmas light supernova yearly since 2003. He is a computer programmer with a background in electrical engineering and codes the flickering lights individually to the beat of holiday songs.

Past displays included a graphic display on an LED Christmas tree that he programmed to spell out words and pictures as the music ebbed and flowed. For example, during the Beach Boy’s “Little Saint Nick,” the song title and a cherry red sleigh arced across the screen.

That idea has been expanded for the Rascal’s site.

Cisco planned throughout most of last year on how to design his display. Around the end of October, he started spending every weekend at the business, setting up lights, planning electrical capability and stringing close to two miles of network cable.

By the beginning of December, the display was up to running. Dozens of tree trunks have been wrapped in light, and a tunnel of archways flash on and off throughout the songs.

Using the LED displays, Cisco can create a range of essentially any color, all on the same tree or post.

Songs such as “Siberian Sleigh Ride” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra and “Mistletoe” by Colbie Caillat set the tone for the lights. A Christmas medley by local musician Brent Bennett is included in the five-song rotation.

The lights go on every night at 5:30 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday. The display is illuminated until 10 p.m. Friday and 10:45 p.m. Saturday.

Rascal’s will keep the display going through Jan. 6, Smith said. Admission is free through the main building.

Cisco and Smith have formed a partnership to feature the light show every December. Plans are in place to improve and expand it each year.

“He wants to do something really big to kick it off then get bigger each year,” Cisco said.

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