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Winners of Grand Holiday Displays feature in Stafford love sharing Christmas light show
|View our interactive guide to area holiday lights|
By Rob Hedelt
WHEN Duane and Linda
But a small yard, nearby lights and a mix of traffic made that spot less than perfect.
Last year, they came up with an idea that Duane's parents--Everett and Rosario Brown, also of Stafford--quickly agreed to.
"We liked their suggestion of moving it here," said Everett, a retired financial manager with the Federal Aviation Administration. "I became the work force."
So last year and this year, the two sets of Browns set up what they call "The Brown Family Xmas Light Show" at the parents' home just a spin off Poplar Road in Wateredge Estates.
After more nominations for a winner than I've received in some time, it's this year's pick for my Grand Holiday Displays feature.
"We had one neighbor who brought his grandson over to see it," said Rosario Brown, who is retired from the Stafford County schools office. "He asked if he could get out of the car and dance."
The Browns' high-tech computerized mix of lights and music is a real treat. You can set your car radio to 105.7 FM and listen to a repeating program of eight different Christmas songs and messages.
Thanks to hundreds of hours of programming by Duane Brown, the music in each song is synchronized with signals to 22,000 lights in the yard. They form a myriad of shapes: trees, bushes, arches, features on the house and a large guitar and banjo in the yard, all lighting and pulsing to match the music.
"It's pretty labor intensive to do the programming," said Brown, a computer network engineer for the Stafford school system. "Each minute of music takes about five hours to program."
The countless strings of lights in the yards, supported by PVC pipe, rebar and other materials the elder Brown shaped, are connected through 192 different computerized "channels" that can be on, off or gradually lightened or darkened by 12 different controller boxes.
WHAT: "Brown Family Xmas Lights Show," winner of this year's Grand Holiday Displays feature WHERE: 114 Wateredge Lane in Stafford. (From U.S. 17 past Geico, take Poplar Road to a right on Kellogg Mill Road to a right onto Abel Drive and a quick left on Wateredge.) WHEN: 6:30 to 10 nightly until New Year's Day. WHAT ELSE: Visitors to the light show can donate nonperishable food items there in a barrel for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.