When you have a hobby that has lasted as long as our Christmas display has, you’re bound to meet others who share your passion. One of our oldest “crazy Christmas friends” is Chris Dodd and his family. While they’re not quite as far as the North Pole they are north of us in Conroe. Ryan and Chris met through Lone Star Holidays and have been friends ever since. Chris even saved the day for our display in 2019 when several of our controllers were damaged.
Chris and Terry built their home over 20 years ago and have been decorating “over the top” ever since. They took the leap into computer controlled light animation in 2006 and the show has grown each year. Like many in this hobby, Chris started this journey because he is, in his own words, a “100% repressed child.” Growing up, Chris’ family didn’t go overboard on decorating, which only made him want to be “one of those crazy Christmas light guys”. Now he continues lighting up his home because the little kid inside of him “cherishes doing just a small part to help spread and keep the spirit of Christmas alive.”
Rarely can any extreme decorator do these large displays alone and the Dodd family is no exception. Chris loves the hobby but, like others, he doesn’t look forward to the labor and time involved every year, so this has become a true family affair. His son, a student at Sam Houston State University, has seen his father’s hard work and he and some friends help to get everything up and running. Hiring a crew to handle the props and lights that require a ladder. “I am prone to falling off ladders,” Chris laughs.
Joy and Magic
Because he is a veteran of large-scale displays, he is regularly asked what his favorite part of the hobby is. “Seeing the joy on the faces…young and old…when the experience something they perceive as truly “magical”!” Chris and Terry also cherish watching some visitors literally grow up. Some children come back year after year and seeing them go from babies to toddlers to teenagers is something special to the Dodd family.
Oftentimes people want to get into the hobby and wonder what they need to do and what to keep in mind. Chris has some pieces of advice for those folks. “First thing, I would tell them is to start small,” he begins. “There are so many moving pieces involved: lights, software, synchronization, and much more.” While it’s true that Chris has been doing this for over 15 years, it was only over the past few seasons that he feels he has a true foundation in place. Having that means he can quickly plan for adding to and building upon his canvas.
“Secondly, do it for the right reasons,” he continued. “If your goal is to “be famous” or “go viral” …be careful what you wish for”. He cautions that there are many, many stories of seasoned displays getting shut down because traffic or noise becomes a nuisance. Having support is important: “make sure your neighbors are “on board” and understand what could be coming soon to a street near them!”
And finally, Chris has a simple mantra when it comes to “going big”:
YOU DO YOU!
Chris firmly believes that any display/show should reflect YOU. That could mean you end up with a pixel display that the Vegas strip would be proud of. It can also mean a more more traditional incandescent display. And it can be all points in between.
His final note is important to remember: “Find the heart and soul of what makes your display YOU and never lose sight of that!”