40,000 Lights and Counting (with video)

711 Lexington Place

Ever since Jenn Majdi went to Disneyland as a young child and saw the dazzling lights she wanted to find a way to bring the magic home.
“When I was 12 or 13 years or so I would sit in my room and think, wouldn’t it be awesome to have lights in my room synchronized to the Main Street Electrical Parade?”
Now, the 34 year old, married mother of three is living her dream. Her house at 711 Lexington Place lays claim to having the largest number of lights synchronized to the most channels of music in the city.
Travel down, slowly, and you will see cars, filled with gawking children in awe of the house that is covered with lights, including a parked VW Bug in the driveway, seemingly dancing to popular Disney-related tunes.
Now in her fourth year, Majdi is part of a group of passionate homeowners in the region who spend months and a good amount of money to create a gorgeous Christmas light display for their community.
“It started with really humble beginnings,” said Majdi, as we wait for the show to start, as the night begins to fall. “It was only about 6000 lights with 16 channels. It’s now grown to over 40,000 lights with 128 channels synchronized to music. Currently there are seven songs running and we continue to build and expand the show every year.”
While it has always been her dream to have a light display synchronized to music, it wasn’t until Majdi and her family moved onto the Gilroy street five years ago when the dream really started to take root.
“The timing could not be better,” she said. That first year a neighbor who had put on his own spectacular light display, drawing visitors to the block, moved out. Majdi simply picked up the mantle.
“It just worked out perfectly, it wasn’t anything new to the neighbors. They were just used to it.”
Now, you can see the love has spread to her neighbors, with a number of them featuring their own sparkly lights.
“The joy has trickled. Its great how other neighbors are starting to add a bit more,” she said.
A middle school math teacher and operations supervisor for the makeup department at California’s Great America, where you can see her handiwork at this year’s Winter Fest, Majdi said new technology that has gone mainstream has made her dream come true.
“It takes me several weeks to custom program each song, with the whole project taking several months,” she said. “There’s 128 individual light commands and when you see each individual section turn on and off, the lights are programmed down to a tenth of a second.”
Sitting down behind a computer months in advance, she slows down each piece of music to a quarter speed so she can nail the timing down. It takes about 2 ½ weeks to string up all the lights and everything is built from scratch — the light poles, the arches, with PVC pipe. Next year she intends to use new technology so preparation will start even earlier.
“It takes a long time, but it’s worth it,” she said.
Every year her three children ask if they will again have “Disneyland on their lawn,”  and she doesn’t disappoint.
Majdi is a huge Disney fan, so all the songs are Disney. The family travels south to the theme park every month.
She’s also a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and last year a child got to launch the show. It is this innocent delight, no questions asked, that compels Majdi to do this each Christmas.
“The first year we launched I was peeking out of my friends window because we like to see the cars drive by, and that first year, a little girl was in her car, her head stuck out the window, when she begins to sing along to the music from the Christmas Fantasy Parade,” she said.
“You don’t know what that kid is going through — maybe she comes from a broken home — maybe this is the first time they’ve been able to get out of their house because they’ve been sick all season. Maybe they are not financially well off and they’re not even going to have a Christmas. I don’t know what that family’s situation is but regardless it brought so much joy to that child. And it was that spirit of the holiday that made us want to continue to do it. It’s like a ministry.”
The display runs through New Years Eve, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday  and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.  Fri-Sat 530p-10p, and extended hours on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.