Crowds brave cold to see tech-savvy SJ man's annual home holiday display

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- When you think "Vegas," flashing lights and festive music might come to mind. During the holiday season in San Jose, it's the same deal along Vegas Drive in the city's Almaden Valley area.

The bright display outside of Raymond Burleigh's home attracts crowds annually.

"Twenty years ago, I got a little flip-flop circuit on sale after Christmas," Burleigh told ABC7 News. "So the next year I made a simple display that flip-flopped between a Christmas tree and an angel."

Eventually, Burleigh kept adding to his front lawn every holiday season. He explained planning starts early.

"It begins in January. I start thinking about what do I want to add," he said.

Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, every weekend is dedicated to putting up the display.

An animated display nestled on the tree outside of his home is new this year. Burleigh said graphics for the display started in July because they had to be formatted for the board.

Burleigh is quite tech-savvy and works as a database programmer for the City of San Jose. He's worked in tech since the 1980s.

He explained his home holiday display went to a fully computerized system about eight years ago.

As technology improved, so has his holiday display.

Currently, crowds can enjoy several light displays, powered by 15,000 bulbs. Even more impressive, a majority of the bulbs are hand-painted.

"About 12,000," he estimated. "The display with the hand-painted bulbs, it takes me a week to set up the frame, draw out the design and drill all the holes. Then a couple of weeks to paint them."

"That's extremely impressive," 10-year-old Leila Limasa told ABC7 News.

Resident Carole Woldstad said, "It's unusual, I haven't seen anything quite like this."

"It has singing songs and a bunch of lights," seven-year-old Siena Langone described.

Even more festive, each light changes shape with special specs provided by Burleigh.

"I see candy canes! I see snowflakes! I see candy canes all over," sisters Sammy, 5, and Abigail,6, went back and forth.

When asked about the candy cane lights, four-year-old Mia Langone told ABC7 News, "Candy canes are very minty, but I still like them!"

Here's where the interaction comes into play. With the simple press of a button, each of the 22-holiday songs on a list, lead to separate light shows. Of course, each show is designed by Burleigh.

He said the Star Wars Theme Song and "Let it Go" from Frozen are fan favorites.

"My granddaughter Amara said she wanted to see Elsa in the lights," he explained. "It took me a while to plan it out, but I got it up for her the next year."

He's programmed Elsa to build her ice castle, using the bulbs.

Other requests included the following:

Six-year-old Ryleigh Enany said her favorite is, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town!"

Carole and Bob Woldstad requested Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Mia Langone said she's a fan of Jingle Bells.

No matter the song, all agree Burleigh's display is a family favorite.

"My favorite part of this entire display is that it's beautiful," 10-year-old Leila Limasa told ABC7 News.

The experience is free. For those who insist on paying it forward, Burleigh is welcoming donations to his 2020 Tour de Cure ride to support the American Diabetes Association.

Light shows begin the Sunday after Thanksgiving, at 5 p.m. sharp. At 11 p.m., the display is turned off. The production is taken down on New Year's Day.
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