Many know of the “Winter Wonderland” that occurs around Christmas time in the Stonehenge neighborhood. My fourteen-year-old brother, Adam Tarnowski, has taken a special interest in this light phenomenon and has become inspired to create his own.
We all first saw these lights the year our family moved into Stonehenge. Only four at the time, Adam had been intrigued by electronics for a while, but this light display was something completely different to him.
For the past 10 years, he has been focused on expanding his knowledge and collection of lights. My brother and I have spent hundreds of dollars each on inflatables, light structures, strings of lights and extension cords. Eventually, my interest in spending all my time and money on our own “winter wonderland” dwindled, but Adam remains just as, if not more, determined to have the most fascinating light show in the neighborhood.
Our front yard has become more full every year during the holiday season. Not only are there more lights, but Adam has begun to incorporate music with the lights using Light-O-Rama — a program he was given for his birthday only three years ago.
Light-O-Rama is used to make sequences by synchronizing lights, motion and sound. This program communicates over a customized low speed RS-485 network.
“I have to organize, make sure I have everything I need, make a budget and see what I need to buy. Making sequences takes the most time, though. Right now I’m just hoping I can get it all done for this year’s show. It is stress[ful], but I feel like I can still go on with it,” Tarnowski said of preparing for his shows.
The light show preparation begins at the end of summer at the earliest and the beginning of November at the latest.
Adam has already created the song list for this year. The list includes a few holiday favorites such as, “All I Want For Christmas is You”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Carol of the Bells” and many more.
“My favorite songs to use are “The Nutcracker Theme”, “Wizards in Winter”, “Christmas Dance” and “House on Christmas Street” because a lot of people that have light shows use these and I want to feel like all the professionals who do it,” said Tarnowski.
As cars drive past the yard, they are able to tune to 92.9 FM in order to listen to the music that is synchronized with the lights.
A twitter, @Tarnowskilghts, and a website, are also hooked up with the show. These two are used for Adam’s announcements, whether show cancellations due to the weather or updates on how the set up is coming along. For those interested in experiencing the show, showtimes are also posted on these.
“I would have to say that the mega trees are my favorite section of the show because they, to someone who is viewing the light show, may seem the most complicated, but they’re really not. This year, I really want to make the mega trees even bigger, said Tarnowski.
Although he has this major interest in light shows, Adam is also a D.J. for neighborhood parties and helps with the technology aspect of Hilburn Academy’s morning announcements. He has assisted with various other projects as well, including being the head light conductor of St. Francis of Assisi’s play, Mulan.
When asked how he has grown to be so knowledgeable regarding electronics, Tarnowski said, “It’s a hobby, it just comes naturally.”
Regarding his other hobbies, he said, “I really like A.V. stuff, so I enjoy setting up televisions, projectors and similar things.”
I, and countless others, have always been amazed with Adam’s interest and grasp of electronics. When he is not working on school work, I always can find Adam setting up new sequences for either the Halloween or Christmas shows regardless of what time of the year it is. He plans to become an electrical engineer in the future and with the talent he shows, I know he will go far.