Looking for a fun, COVID-safe holiday activity for the family? Brebeuf Jesuit senior Jack Kaufmann knows the perfect place! His family has put on a spectacular Christmas light show every year since 2013 to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. They were even runners-up in WTHR’s Battle of the Bulbs last year!
Come enjoy some dancing lights and Christmas tunes from the comfort and safety of your own car, and support a wonderful cause in the process! The light show runs between November 27 and December 29 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on weekends.
Address: 5245 North County Road 600 East, Brownsburg, IN 46112
NOTE: If it rains the night before or the day you plan to attend, the Kaufmanns recommend coming another night, as the lights will not be running.
Describe the preparation required for this month-long fundraising event. What does the process of putting the lights up, programming them to music, etc. look like? How long does all of that behind-the-scenes work take?
We began putting all of the lights up ourselves in 2015. Prior to that, we had a company do it, but we found it wasn’t as hard as it sounded to do it ourselves. The process begins in early November, and we have to begin screwing in the lightbulbs (100% LED), which there are easily over a thousand of. Putting the bulbs together with the strands takes 1-3 weeks. Once the bulbs are put together, they have to be put on the house.
The first bulbs to go up are the red ones on the roof. They are the most dangerous (my dad puts them up using a rock-climbing-like harness, and one of us kids is on the ground ready to call an ambulance if anything happens). We usually put up the hardest lights first (red, green, blue—the ones on the house) then follow up with everything else, plus extension cords. The extension cords alone take up to 2 days if 4 or 5 family members are working. There are over 130 of them that individually plug into a custom sub-panel in the basement, so it gets pretty messy.
Once the lights are all up and connected, they are controlled through a program called Light-O-Rama, which allows the user to download a song off of their dedicated store and easily have the lights flash to it. They do the programming. All the user has to do is download the prepped song, which makes it easy for anyone to do. The lights are broadcasted through a small FM transmitter that we put in the yard. It broadcasts to 98.1 FM.
Once the holiday season comes to an end, it sometimes takes until mid-April to take the lights down since it becomes so miserably cold through January, February, and March.
What is the personal significance of Habitat for Humanity to you and your family?
Habitat for Humanity is important to my family because my grandpa has dedicated a large portion of his life to volunteering for them. He was named volunteer of the year a few years back and loves working for them. Since 2013, we have raised over $12,000 total through donations.
How many cars does your house average per night during the holiday season?
During the days after Thanksgiving, we average only a few at a time, but after the first week of December, it is routine to see upwards of 10 cars at any time parked in the yard. During the busiest nights (Christmas Eve and a night Brownsburg holds an annual Christmas parade), we can have upwards of 35 at once.
Has anything particularly funny or memorable happened with any of the visiting cars over the years?
We’ve had to use our tractors to pull people out of the yard numerous times when it rains. A few times, we’ve even had to call a tow truck to yank a car out (3 or 4 times total)—once was on Christmas Eve.
I also saw a minibus parked out there once, so, intrigued, I went out and found that it was a church bus filled with a bunch of old ladies, and they were super nice! They even gave me a chocolate chip cookie.
What is your favorite thing about this tradition?
I will occasionally hear from people about the show and how their kids LOVE going to see it, some already having made a tradition out of it. It’s awesome to know that something my family has done for the community has become loved and followed by so many other people around Indiana.
What message would you like to share with the Brebeuf community about this awesome fundraising event?
While I would not normally say this since we are in a pandemic and gatherings are discouraged, get in your car and come out and watch it! This show is not affected by the pandemic at all, since you stay in your car. I know Brownsburg can be a bit of a hike for some, but the show is absolutely worth the time.
Finally, is there anything we missed that you’d like to mention?
Our two horses get a nice view of the show every night from the stable just across the property.
Also, all of us kids were little when we started this: Grace (our youngest) was only 9, our twins Jack and Maddie were 10, and Ethan was 12. At the end of the show, there is a prerecorded message that plays to announce the charity, donations, etc. We’ve been using the same message since day 1 even though we all sound very different.
What a wonderful tradition! To get a sneak peek of the show, click here.