Lighting Up For A Good Cause
What would cause a person to string up some 65,000 lights around their house to celebrate the Christmas season? That's what we asked Ben Hohman on the Big Picture Morning show on Monday. What started out as just a little Christmas nuttiness, has turned in to a Cedar City tradition that offers support to a great cause.
Ben said, “I started out with a couple of string of lights....this is fun....then I started building things...I built a nine foot wreath.” And from there it got bigger and bigger. Hohman then thought “if I'm going to keep doing it,to get my wife to sort of buy in, I'm going to have to have a reason.”
And he came up with a great reason. Ben had been a fan of the Make A Wish Foundation for years, and decided if he could do something to benefit the foundation it would give him and his wife a sense of giving back. Hohman told us he became trained to become a “wish grantor” some twenty years ago, and was able to grant one wish. But finding the experience “traumatic to me,” he decided to shift his efforts to supporting the organization by raising funds to donate.
Which leads to the home decoration. This year, Ben told us he is just over 65,000 lights an the display, along with almost fifty inflatables, over sixty five of the hard plastic ornaments and displays along with vintage pieces, wire sculptures and other ornaments. Ben also has Christmas music playing through out the display and the lights bounce to the beat of the music. Visitors can walk through the front and back yards of the residence on well Christmas lit paths. When he started, Ben said he was the only house on the street to put up lights, but now other homes have joined in, though not to the same extent.
The process actually starts at the very end of the season. Ben said he does his repair work each year as he's taking down the displays to put back in to storage. During that time he tests all the lights and fixes anything that is broken. Then, it's November 1st when they start the procedure of putting everything in place and getting ready for the season. Hohman takes Mondays and Friday off during the month so he has an extended weekend to work on the project. They start the work in the backyard. Hohman also said there are “a couple of weekends” in November when friends come over to help on the project. No dimensional ornaments go up in the front yard until after Thanksgiving, as they do put some display out for that holiday.
Hohman said the neighborhood has been supportive. Traffic does increase, especially getting closer to Christmas day. The only time a street resident talked to Ben was the first year they started at the current location. That neighbor had a small child whose bedroom faced the Hohman's display. Instead of sleeping, the child would stare out the window at the magic across the street. At the time, Ben kept the lights on until 10:30 or 11 O'clock at night, but after the discussion, the lights went off at 10:00pm which continues to this day.
We asked Ben if he had ever considered trying to get on one of the “Christmas Light War” shows on tv. He told us he applied once, but they don't even consider you until you get to 100,000 plus lights.
Ben could get there some day. He added six circuits to the house just to be able to carry the load of the Christmas display. Last year he tested those circuits, capable of supplying 120 amps. So far he's only using about 54 amps so there could be much more added in the years to come.
The display is on nightly from 5:30 to 10:00 at 26 North 1150 West. Trust me, you can't miss it. There is a donation box on sight for the Make A Wish Foundation. You can deposit cash or checks. And there is even a QR code at the donation box for those who wish to use Venmo. Listen to our interview below.
Cedar City Christmas Extravaganza
Gallery Credit: Dr. T
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Gallery Credit: Annalise Mantz & Madison Troyer