David Rosen
Here's a sneak preview photo of the Helmstetler Christmas Spectacular in a still photo (the video below of one song will give you some idea of what the 25 minute show is like). This year's display used 60,000 LED lights and promises to be the best yet. --CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

UPDATE- SLIDESHOW: Helmstetler Christmas Spectacular is back and bigger than ever

What does it take and what does a light display look like in the daylight? The Herald got an exclusive sneak peek at this year's show

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By David Rosen and Patrick Robinson

The most spectacular Christmas lights in West Seattle, at least as far as animation, music and sheer amazement goes are back bigger, brighter and even more astounding than ever before. The West Seattle Herald brought you the story last year. Called the Helmstetler Family Christmas Spectacular it is a highly choreographed, musical and interactive display at at 3908 s.w. Charlestown Street.

The Herald got a sneak peek at this year's show with some remarkable lighting choreography to a jazzy version of We Three Kings by Go Fish (Watch the video to see and hear this one song preview). The big show gets underway at 7pm on Saturday Nov. 26 when a special member of the Seattle Sounders, Zach Scott will literally kick things into action.

CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

They are at their most impressive at night of course but setting them up takes planning, placement, and programming and that work is done largely in daylight. And until Thanksgiving night (when he does a private display) they will not be displayed for the public. That show is set for November 26 when he states he will have a "very special guest" on hand to do the honors of turning on the display. You can get a very good idea of what the display is like on the website dedicated to it, www.westseattlelights.com where photos and videos of it in full animation mode can be seen.

New this year are:

  • Star columns
  • Arches that are two different colors instead of one this year
  • 4 more mini tress
  • Cosmic color ribbon, which is the highlight of the show

The light show runs Mon-Fri 5pm-9pm weekends 5pm-10pm Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Years Eve 4pm- Midnight. New Years Day, everything comes down.

The display will have 20,000 more lights than last year, now up to 60,000 but they are all LED's so they don't draw a huge amount of power. There are 6000 feet of extension cords required, all custom made.

Jim Winder is the brains behind it all and he took about three weekends to get it all set up, starting the weekend after Halloween. Winder uses software called Light-O-Rama and creates animated sequences for different songs. Sequencing takes six hours per 30 seconds of song. Each show lasts 25 minutes.
There are interactive buttons for kids to push that key sound and light effects.

But while it's fun and even beautiful at times to watch what all the hard work has made possible, there's an even more positive purpose. Visitors are urged to come with a donation for several worthy causes. The opening weekend, all donations are going to help the family of Ed Kingston, the West Seattle doctor and soccer coach who died unexpectedly recently.

Following the first weekend they will be collecting food for West Seattle Food Bank and cash for the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation as well as the West Seattle Food Bank.

More information on how to donate, schedules for the light shows, karaoke sign-up, fun facts on what goes into the display, driving directions and a list of other Christmas light displays in West Seattle can all be found at the website, www.westseattlelights.com.

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