Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac Disease Research
Controllable Christmas Lights are back for 2013! The CFCR appreciates Alek's efforts in raising over $70,000 to fight celiac disease. Please consider adding your online donation now.
Alek Komarnitsky from Boulder, CO (USA) has had thousands of Christmas lights (and now Halloween lights!) on his house for the enjoyment of friends and neighbors since 1999. In 2002, he got the brilliant crazy idea to add a webcam and webcontrol, so people on the Internet could not only view his lights, but turn them on & off and see the results on their computer screen via the christmas webcam. It got increasingly popular each year, and in 2004, a media frenzy erupted over it and the story went around the world on the Internet, in print, on radio, and on TV - one of the more entertaining segments was when Denver ABC-7 took him up in their helicopter for a live report on their 6:00 News of the blinking lights.
There was only one problem - it was all a fun little Christmas hoax. The lights were real, but a sequence of still images were used to provide the illusion that people were changing them. Alek's wife Wendy was changing the lights when the chopper was overhead, but the rest of the time they never blinked! ;-)
Concerned that his prank had gotten out of hand, Alek approached the Wall Street Journal to fess up and "High Tech Holiday Light Display Draws Everyone But the Skeptics" revealed the hoax after Christmas. Needless to say, the media howled over this change of events, and another round of international publicity ensued as people around the world got a good post-holiday chuckle.
In 2005, Alek did it for real. He also realized that after his 15 minutes of fame in 2004, he might be able to garner 15 seconds in 2005 and use it to raise awareness and money for celiac disease, which is something his kids have.
While he suggested a headline of "High Tech Holiday Display Says 'Bring on the Skeptics!'" - the Washington Post wrote "From Web Hoaxer to Helper" that discussed his fundraising efforts for the Center for Celiac Research as $3,731 was donated because of his (go figure!) Christmas Lights. After Dr. Fasano "took control of everything [at Alek's house]" he was then quoted saying "hats off to this fella"
The Rocky Mountain News concluded that Alek's three ChristmasCams (three more than previous years!) were real as was his use of X10 powerline technology to control them. I.e. people on the Internet really could turn them on & off via the web and see the results ... along with his very understanding neighbors who graciously OK'ed the (real this time) blinking light show. And in keeping with Alek's whimsical nature, his Santa Tracker has "video footage" of Santa Claus and his reindeer (led by Rudolph with his shiny red nose) stopping by Christmas Eve.
This is the 8th year that Alek has been working with the CFCR to raise awareness and funds for celiac research. His two sons have celiac disease, so this cause is important to him. Individuals and companies that donate are listed on his high traffic website for Christmas lights fans around the world to see. One special donor, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, has been making generous annual donations since 2006. Their charitable contributions have a played a major role in pushing the total funds raised from the Christmas Lights to over $70,000. Bronner's, located in Frankenmuth, MI, is the world's largest Christmas store (1.7 football fields) and has been around since 1945! On average, 2 million people visit the store every year. It's a pretty magical place for children and therefore quite fitting that they support crucial research for children with celiac disease.
Last year, Internet surfers from 146 countries stopped by! So surf on by, tell your friends, blog about it, or share via Facebook and Twitter http://www.komar.org/cgi-bin/christmas_webcam
View of Alek's front yard covered in lights and decorations.