Couple turns light show into radio broadcast

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 12, 2010

NATCHEZ — Turning the FM radio dial to 90.9 yields little more than static most places in town, but turning on to Raintree Street South in Natchez brings the station to life.

Like magic, the station broadcasts six Christmas tunes and the white lights on the house at 9 Raintree St. South and the trees placed in the yard play along — flashing to the beat of the music.

The magic is inside and under the control of homeowners Ed and Deanna Bowser.

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For the second year in a row, the Bowsers have produced the light show that attracts cars full of visitors every night.

“I’ve wanted to do something to computerize the lights for a while,” Ed Bowser said. “I just knew there was a way to do that and started poking around online and found that it is not a very complicated process.”

All it takes is a little hardware, a little software, a computer and some time.

There are 16 channels of lights responding to the music and six songs in the 22-minute show, Ed Bowser said.

There are white lights lining the front of the house, a large wreath and several sets of miniature Christmas trees that all have a part in the show.

“I’ve watched it three or four times to just make sure it is running correctly,” he said. “And of course, we’ve been out there replacing lights and bulbs more than 10 times.”

He said with the software running the program, the programmer decides which lights will shine at what time and for how long. The Bowsers’ display is set to change every one-tenth of a second, he said.

“It takes a good bit of time because you can only listen to about three seconds of a song at a time,” he said. “I haven’t even tried to count the hours it took.”

There are Internet forums with posts by people who have used the same program that gives tips and ideas of how to program for certain songs. Bowser said he has used suggestions from those sites to arrange his display.

Because it wasn’t about the work that it took to get the lights glowing, it’s more about the enjoyment of the season, Ed said.

“We’ve always enjoyed Christmas, and have decorated inside and out for years,” he said. “This is something a little more special, a little more eye catching that we enjoy and other people enjoy as well.”

The display was up Thanksgiving Day and will continue until after Christmas. The shows are from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Word about the light show has spread across the community pretty quickly, without Bowsers doing much work, Ed said.

“I think people come and see it and go and tell other people about it, or they find us when they are riding around looking at other lights,” he said. “Last year a fellow employee stopped me and said ‘There’s this house, and the lights are set to music’

“I just said ‘That’s my house,’” Ed said with a laugh.

For some, the scene is one that needs to be enjoyed more than once.

“Some people were there last night and left a note in the mailbox just saying they appreciated us doing it and were going to come back with some friends to see it again,” Ed Bowser said. “That’s why we do it, so people can come and see it.”

Ed suggests drivers turn off headlights to better enjoy the show.

And Ed said, he and Deanna are already working to make sure people have a reason to come back next year.

“We’re hoping to jump up to 64 channels of lights next year,” he said. “That’s quite a jump, but I’m already working on it.”