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    LAST UPDATED December 1, 1999

History of Display with pictures of "the beginning"

I, Darren Pieper, started this grand project by simply outlining the house before we had our large addition, which doubled the size of our house (the five dormers and the Great Room were not in existence then.)

  • In 1991, with somewhere near only 1000 lights outside started my grand display that it is now. I was only a junior at Hunterdon Central High school. When I first started, I had no idea that my display would grow to such a large scale.

  • In 1992, the dormers were first lit from a series of outside receptacle plugs that I wired in our new addition.

  • In 1993, I set out to work on my first icon for our front lawn, the nine reindeer (each ~4 1/2 feet tall) and the sleigh all built out of plywood. *** ~3000 lights ***

  • In 1994, the reindeer & sleigh all received personalized name tags and detailing. *** ~5000 lights ***

  • In 1995, I set out to build an 8' long biplane with a 8 1/2' wingspan. A 3 or 4 year old would find plenty of comfort aboard this plane. The propeller consists of a cut plywood circle with a chasing light set wired in a spiral to give it a virtual spinning effect, which has inspired many who visit. The wired Santa Claus was also an after Christmas addition this year. With the increase of visitors this year, I built a sign to display title (Santa's Airport), # of lights, and hours that the display was lit. The Great Room was first lit. And the Two large trees out front had a few lights in them that looked almost like lightning when they flashed. ***~8000 lights ***

  • In 1996, the front posts were changed in giant candy canes with lights, and the walkway lanterns were also changed into candy canes lanterns (in 1997, they were lit with mini lights). The "Winter Wonderland" was created consisting of some metal poles used for virtual pine trees and an virtual ice pond with chasing lights set to their fastest speed before steady lit to give a glitter effect. Two 8' toy soldiers with trumpets were built and lit. And a challenging job this year was to get the 180 lbs. of reindeer & sleigh to fly. The airplane also got a lift. *** ~12,000 lights ***

  • In 1997, two snowmen were placed skating on the ice rink (ice pond.) I built a new 'lit' sign displaying the letters with miniature lights. The task required three ceiling light panels stuck together to give a holder for the light. Three 12' high skyliners were built with an 18" snowflake in the middle of each one. I used my 14' trampoline in front of the toy soldiers to represent a large drum. The main event that gave a new title, Christmas City, to my display was the 48' long- 12' high bridge and city surrounding it. This year, with continued efforts, was the first year the "Hunterdon County Democrat" newspaper came out and took pictures for their paper. Visit the page of the article. *** 17,329 lights *** 
  • For 1997, I started around Halloween, and spent 150 hours putting up the lights during my 19 credit hours at Rutgers University. Tear down took only 3 days. There were 4000 lights that lit up the inside the house in addition to the 17,000 outside.

  • In 1998,  Over 400 hours were spent; 97% done by myself, Darren.  Myself and a friend of mine, Tracy Schmid, started in August preparing for painting and building the new structures.  Lights started going up around September 20 on the house, and only the clear lights, because the colored lights tend to fade to quickly in the sun (a lot of sets from the house last year were retired to other places due to their faded color).  This year a great deal of time was spent reorganizing the way the lights were put on the house;  About 4000 more lights were put on the house and I needed to arrange the lights in such away to provide a way to plug in all the lights.  There is ONLY 3 extension cords needed to power the house lights;  The lights on the house are plugged into 16 different plug-in outlets which were wired in various places and various circuits to avoid overloads.  The lights in the yard, on the other hand, use an entire box full of extension cords (probably 50 or more).                                                                  
  • The additions for 1998 were: a manger scene built for a church play, Mary and Joseph stand about 4 ' tall built from plywood, and a feeding trof where Jesus lay.  The city skyline was made to look like the NY skyline, complete with the twin towers and the NY Christmas tree at Rockafeller Center.  The buildings were also parts of a castle built for a church play, constructed of a wooden frame and canvas painted and stapled on.   A rope was placed around the perimenter of our property which was also lit with lights;  it gave a great walkway around the lights.  I also created a pathway to walk through the light displays, which traveled over a bridge and under the Rings and Bar created for my full-size Gymnastics equipment display.  Also a 14' rotating beaken Light House was built.  ***  29,770 lights ***

  • In 1999, Tracy Schmid and myself, started in August a week or so earlier in Aug then the previous year. We knew we were heading into a big year.  This year is the most we have added to the Christmas City.  We have been spending every waking moment of free time dedicated to designing, buying, cutting, painting, building, and wiring with lights all the new structures for this year; and not to mention putting up the old lights, fixing old displays, and adding to the old displays. (More details to come shortly) Estimated light count for 1999 is OVER 40,000 lights!