comments

Intricate show illuminates

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
-A +A
On Folsom’s Buckingham way, holiday spirit fuses three American icons into a holiday spectacle. They are the Christmas Tree, the light show and the computer. Respect for values traditional, psychedelic and info-age informs resident Michael Breton’s approach to putting a few convivial house lights up and filling the air with Christmas music. One won’t hear -- that’s right, hear -- anything like it in Folsom. Breton’s spectacle, at which the public is welcome, consists of sequenced lighting elements, or patches -- each one containing thousands of multicolored bulbs -- synched-up with a progression of holiday musical numbers, some 19 in all, traditional and non-traditional. The synching takes sophisticated knowledge of computer programming, but, no problem -- Breton has a job at Intel. "As you program, you’re saying, ‘I want light No. 1 to spark, and No. 32 to turn off,’" Breton said. "You decide what you want for every second of every song." The overall effect, one might say, is that Breton has expressed musical chord and melody changes in shifting patterns or patches of holiday light. As the drums, the bass and the heavy brass instruments stop, and a flight of high violin-solo notes takes over, so does a flighty, speedy dance of evanescent micro-bulbs. It is a holiday concert and light show. Visitors tune in Breton’s private radio broadcast for the musical half of the spectacle. Neighbors are wowed. "It’s been wonderful," said Chuck Dillender. "He keeps improving it. We take the kids and listen to the music." If, during the off-season, Breton’s neighbors find a need for a heavy-duty extension cord, they know where to go to borrow one. Breton owns roughly as many X-cords as currently could be bought all over Folsom. Probably more. "Last year, I bought out the stock at Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot," he said. This is the third year for Breton’s continuously growing extravaganza on Buckingham Way off Iron Point Road. Breton this year lays on a snow machine and several fountains. But, it’s really about the lights. "This year, we have one tree with more lights than the whole show had the first year," Breton said. Neighbor Sanford Finkleman said that the attraction hasn’t yet jammed the neighborhood with traffic, but that those who do arrive tend to linger. "He’s done a great job," Finkleman said. "Last night, there were 15 or 20 cars. Some people will get out of the car. I’m Jewish, but it love it." Input on how to incorporate fountains came from buddies at Intel, Breton said, but advice by and large has come from his wife, Cindy and his daughter, Hayley. Computer buffs know that some "off-the-shelf" musical sequences are available on the Internet. Breton isn’t above using or getting ideas from such as those. Still, he wasn’t sure whether he recommends people do or do not "try this at home." "It’s not for the faint of heart," Breton said. He cautiously encouraged those with high skill levels around computers and electronics. Still, there’s that X-cord expense. "I spent more on extension cords this year than for the project the first year," Breton said. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com