WAUWATOSA, Wis. — One Wauwatosa man's interactive front yard Christmas display has been played with by thousands of people from around the world.
Mike Walczak created MKE Lights. It's a relatively average Christmas display in front of his house, but what isn't ordinary is what people can do with it. Anyone with an internet connection can turn the lights on and off one display at a time. Plus, there are two cameras live-streaming his front yard, so you can see the displays turn on and off in real-time.
“You know static displays have their place and I grew up in a general home where we had our typical Christmas lights out front and that was great," Walczak, a self-proclaimed 'Christmas Tech Nerd' said.
But once he saw another person’s remote-controlled setup, he knew he had to make his own. It wasn’t easy.
“The display itself utilizes four computers in my basement as well as a server down in Florida," Walzcak said.
For Mike it was hard to set up, but thankfully for us, it’s easy to use. To turn the lights on and off, go to MKELights.com. Scroll down and click on the display you want to turn on or off. Walczak was aware that this could invite spammers or trolls to try and override the system. So he is prepared for that.
“So you have to wait five seconds, so for that very reason, I was afraid not only would individuals try to overtake the display and take away the fun from others, but also the potential for non-humans to enter the equation.”
Mike just wanted to have a unique display. The fact that last year his site was visited up to roughly 40,000 times in just over a month by people around the world is an added bonus.
It isn't just a remote-controlled display, though. Every 30 minutes the controls are put on pause and a music light show plays. The lights are coordinated to whatever song is playing on 93.9 FM.
"It’s just something to break it up," he said.
Plus, this prevents trolls from trying to turn off all the lights and keep them that way.
You can interact with the display through the rest of December from 5pm to 10 pm every night.