HONESDALE—The Honesdale High School (HHS) Department of Lights and Sound presents its ninth annual “Holiday Lights” spectacle starting this Friday, December 15, at 6 p.m.
Those interested can view the legendary light show from the HHS parking lot each night from December 15-20 in half-hour increments from 6-9 p.m.
The dancing light sequences are timed to a holiday music playlist broadcast through radio 107.7fm.
Each night offers a slightly different show, and with no admittance fee, repeat attendance is encouraged.
“It's something unique,” stated HHS tech instructor/Lights and Sound supervisor Shawn Garing. “It's something that we … can do to showcase our talents and really give back to the community that supports us.”
This year, the show features around 30,000 dancing, blinking, and twinkling lights.
Students working on the project are most excited to unveil the special rig they built to accompany “The Polar Express.”
According to Garing, “it's the biggest piece we've ever made,” requiring six of their crew to hoist the gargantuan prop in place.
Perched atop the highest peak of the school roof, the Polar Express rig is the newest innovation among the display's other original lighting builds.
Such innovation keeps HHS Junior and three year Holiday Lights veteran Elijah Hanson coming back to work on the project year after year.
“Each year we go, add more, and it get's more complicated, but it just adds the fun to it,” he said.
Similarly, HHS Senior Nick Pizzo – a Holiday Lights four-year contributor – stated, “there's something unique every show.”
Pizzo attested to the hard work the students put into the project each year: “The wiring usually takes about an entire day to do. Everyone sticks through that, whether it be snowing, or raining or two degrees out … everyone's out there doing stuff.”
The crew have been hard at work balancing Holiday Lights set up with their other duties flipping stage shows for the high school chorus and band concerts.
Work consists of building the rigs and supports, running lights, checking the system and making repairs as needed.
“The skills that we can teach on the roof doing Christmas lights are so mucf more than you can get in a traditional classroom,” explained Garing.
This year's crew consists of around 40 students, four of whom are graduates who have returned to help out.
“We're all a family, here,” explained HHS Senior Ben Asinari, “we're all going through the same thing. No matter what the temperature, what the weather, we're always out here.”
Pizzo also mentioned the familial aspect shared throughout the Department of Lights and Sound, “we have a lot of chemistry here. Everyone's family here.”
While it costs nothing to attend, the group collects donations to make necessary equipment repairs.
Any money they have which exceeds their repair costs is donated back into the community, a nod to the generous donations which launched the program from its inception as Kyle Diehl's senior project in 2009.
Last year, the show raised an extra $600 which was split into four donations.
Two were made to the Beach Lake and Welcome Lake fire companies which, “completed all of the fire departments within Wayne County that service Wayne Highlands,” Garing stated. “We've given to all of them.”
The last two donations went to the Wayne County Community Foundation (WCCF) in honor of the late Tom Jenkins and the late Dan O'Neill, both former WHSD administrators, “that were really instrumental in what Wayne Highlands represents,” said Garing.
“With their passing the year before, we just thought it would be fitting for us to send something back in their name that could benefit the kids and all the projects that the community foundation supports.”
Nine years and going strong
In addition to growing and changing from year to year, Holiday Lights has cultivated a dedicated community following that gets larger each year, said Garing.
Last year saw close to 3,000 attendees, he added, noting the slight increase over the year prior.
Garing mentioned a particular individual makes a point of driving all the way from Eldred, New York to see the show each year.
Likewise, the tech guru noted an increased draw in attendees from Scranton and Wilkes Barre.
“It's an easy night out,” stated Garing, encouraging those interested to make a night of it with a dinner in town and an after-supper spectacle up on the hill.
“We're glad to be able to do it.”