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TOWNSEND — Christmas lights, Christmas music.

Are they the perfect way to get into the spirit of the season? Simple, visual reminders of year’s end? Quintessential kitsch that comes every holiday season? For Townsend high-school student Christopher Puglia, they are an art form, a year-round thing.

Christmas in Townsend is a free holiday extravaganza that combines holiday music and Christmas lights and decoration. One and all are invited to 64 Pierce Road in Townsend, where, from the warmth of a vehicle, viewers can tune into 98.3 FM to listen to a holiday radio show and witness a 21,000-count light show synched with the music.

“I like seeing people come out, it gets people in the spirit of the holidays,” Puglia said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Three years ago, the Puglia household, set back in the woods was decorated with static Christmas lights. It was an impressive display, but Puglia was thinking bigger.

“It peaked my interest, just lights is cool for like three or four seconds, but animating them makes it all the more exciting,” he said.

To take it to the next level, he began looking for inspiration anywhere he could. On YouTube, he found some, but then he discovered, an online forum.

“It’s a massive community with similar interest, you can find help with any question on there,” he said.

It helps that Puglia was a hobbyist-engineer. In the past he had created things like arcade games, scoreboards and a moped. His holiday light show was another project.

The lights are controlled by five circuit boards placed on the outside of his house, he soldered and runs wires to around the yard himself. They run into a computer which plays the music and synchs lights using an open source sequencing program Vixen.

“That is the most time-consuming part, after the set up, you have to create the light show,” Puglia says.

The Vixen interface includes a timeline, a chart with each of the light strings on the Y axis and the song on the X axis. Each of the songs gets one and, after Puglia meticulously puts in which lights will fade, flash, dance or jump on the beat, the songs synch up. Some are easier to synch that others, he says, such as the epic Trans-Siberian Orchestra selections Christmas Cannon and Wizards in Winter or Darude’s Sandstorm (albeit not a Christmas song, says Puglia, but makes for an incredible display).

Puglia’s playlist is played out of the computer and through a weak radio transmitter he purchased. When cars enter the driveway, they are greeted with a sign instructing drivers to tune into 98.3. The transmitter was one of his biggest expenses, his DIY approach puts thriftiness at the forefront.

He stores all the decor in his closet and under his bed, recycles all he can and budgets purchases to make each year better. This year, he welded a 24-foot tree which has strings of lights meeting at the top and a star to boot.

“My parents subsidize the electricity,” Puglia said. “It is actually less expensive with the lights being animated, as opposed to having them all on at once.”

Puglia said his mother and father are very supportive and, at first, they had no clue what he was doing.

“He was in the basement soldering or doing something,” his mother, Paula Puglia, said. “And then he set it all up and it amazed me.

“From the resistors and capacitors to the putting up the lights, he just went for it.”

Christopher, with the help of his brother Mark, installed lights on moldings, shrubs, a fence going around their pool, a balcony, railings and even scaled their two-story house to line dormers and windows. The yard also features three inflatable Christmas characters.

“We begin setting up in early November so we can get all the bugs out,” Puglia said. “It is ready to go December first.”

The show runs until Jan. 6, from dusk until 9 p.m. If it’s raining, Puglia turns the show off, but snow is no problem, he said.

Last year, he started a website,, where he keeps a blog, gives directions to his house, posts photos and asks for feedback on the show. Puglia also has a Facebook page.

Puglia attends St. John’s Prep in Shrewsbury where he runs track and plays intramural basketball. Now in his junior year, Puglia says his hobby may become a career.

“I may pursue career in electrical engineering,” he said. “But for now, there’s this. When people come and see it, they say they’ve never seen anything like it.”

Come January, he will begin storing things for the next year. For 2012 Puglia says he wants more colors, more lights and might invest in some sort of lift to get to hard-to-reach places.

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