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December 13, 2011 > Light show takes Christmas to a new level

Light show takes Christmas to a new level

By Julie Grabowski

Joyous sights and experiences abound at Christmas time, from brightly lit houses to holiday concerts and plays, hot drinks and tasty treats. Traditions are eagerly revisited as we fill our cups with our own special brand of holiday cheer. But this year, Fremont has something new on offer that is sure to score a place on your list of holiday musts.

Carpenter Kurt Alber and his wife Mary, a traveling nurse, moved to Fremont over a year ago to be closer to their two sons who live in L.A. They visited light displays in the area last Christmas, but were shocked to find none of the light shows that are such a prevalent Christmas tradition in their home state of Texas and throughout the Midwest. "Lights and music together just touch people at Christmas," says Alber.

Having experience helping with these kinds of light shows (also called mega tree shows), he approached Crossroads Pastor Paul McGovern with the idea of putting together a show for the community and making it an annual event, a future staple of the holiday season. A core group was instrumental in getting the show together, creating a computerized 24-foot tree with multiple strands of lights that serves as the show's centerpiece, attached to three controlling boxes which allow the lights to change color and move to music.

The result is The Sights and Sounds of Christmas Light Show, a celebratory experience like no other in the area. The show is about 28 minutes long and features 30,000 LED lights covering trees, fixtures, and bushes, specifically choreographed to seven holiday songs. The music is upbeat with something for everyone, from "Carol of the Bells" to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." A smile-inducing, toe-tapping spirit lifter, the light show is a wonderful addition to the Christmas season, sure to please and enchant young and old alike.

"It's really fantastic, it's an awesome light show," says Pastor Paul. A self-proclaimed Christmas fanatic, he jumped fully on board when Alber first pitched the idea, and so did many others. Over 100 people have volunteered or had a part in getting the light show up, with 15 to 20 people helping out at every show. And the community is coming on board as well; 600 to 700 people came out over the first weekend the see the extravaganza.

This is not a drive by type of sight that you witness through your car window, but an actual show where you can get something warm to drink, sit down and enjoy. While driving through local neighborhoods to take in the lights and decorations is always a fun excursion, the more popular areas can make you feel rushed and unable to relax and take it all in, as everyone is waiting and eager to see what is offered. The light show provides a chance to meet new people and share the holiday spirit as a community. "The more people you meet, the better off you are," says Alber.

About 150 chairs are set up in the church courtyard and free hot cider and cookies add to the festive air. "It's the best light show in Fremont," declares Pastor Paul, who has watched various light shows on YouTube, but says, "to see it live and in person is incredible." Summed up quite simply, he says, "It's just a joy." Alber hopes many people will come out, saying, "There's no way to explain it until you actually see it" (Caution: The show contains a lot of rapid movement and the lights sometimes have a strobe effect that may be a health concern for anyone susceptible to epileptic seizures).

Though it's hard for him to believe and something he never thought he'd say, Alber admits he and his wife fell in love with California. "We love the community, we love the area," he says. The light show is a way of giving back to the community that has become their home and serves to help people find joy at Christmas time.

While the show is free, so many people have asked about making a donation that the church is accepting monetary gifts from those wishing to give; all funds go to help families in need in the community.

For a different and unique experience this season, be sure to visit The Sights and Sounds of Christmas Light Show and prepare to be infused with the holiday spirit!

The Sights and Sounds of Christmas Light Show
Weekends, December 2 - 23
Fridays: 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Saturdays: 9 p.m.
Sundays: 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Crossroads Church
41386 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
(510) 651-0301

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