‘Listen’ as Christmas lights twinkle bright in Oshawa

The Christmas lights display at the Scheepers family home in east Oshawa. Photo credit: Kathryn Fraser

Nestled in the suburbs of east Oshawa, Christmas lights illuminate the night sky with shades of red, blue, yellow, green and white. But there’s a twist. Not only are the lights flashing, they are also synchronized to music.

The Scheepers family has been decorating their home at 563 Labrador Dr. in Oshawa with Christmas lights every year since 2013. Ben and his wife Megan both love Christmas and for their wedding, even celebrated with the theme ‘Christmas in July.’ Their three daughters – Elizabeth, 8, Abigail, 6, Scarlett, 4 – greatly inspired the lights display.

(From front left) Elizabeth, 8, Abigail, 6, and Scarlett, 4, with parents Ben and Megan Scheepers in their decorated home. Photo credit: Kathryn Fraser

Scheepers, who works at Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering nuclear plant, studied mechatronics at Durham College 15 years ago.

“I was [part of] the first group to commission [the robot] lab across from the pub (in the Student Centre),” he said. “The school looks a lot different from when I graduated in ’03.”

Scheepers has since applied what he’s learned at DC to create the light show every Christmas.

“Light-O-Rama software and controls,” he said, answering how he coordinates the lights.

“It’s basically a programmable logic controller. You create a program on a computer that you use to synchronize the [lights to] music. It’s very time consuming to do but in the end, it ends up looking pretty good.”

Scheepers sets the lights up by himself, but in the past viewers got to see lights synced to music at two houses, as he paired his lights with his neighbour’s home. Scheepers said when the two houses were on display, it featured about 25,000 Christmas lights.

“All the controls are on the [right side] of the house so he [could] plug his lights into it so they would synchronize with mine,” he said. “They’ve since moved and I’ve tried to talk the new folks into it and we’ll see where they stand on it.”

Scheepers said the music is played on 88.7 FM. Light sequences match every song while a variety of music is streamed, ranging from Carol of the Bells performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to the classic Frosty the Snowman.

“Baby Please Come Home by Darlene Love. It’s one of my favourites,” Scheepers said. “It’s one my mom would’ve loved.”

His mother passed away in 2012 and she is the reason why he decided to create the display.

“She was the flashy one in the family and I got a little bit of that from her,” Scheepers said. “We inherited all of her Christmas stuff. Between the electronics and the flashier side of things, it was something that interested me.”

The lights are a Christmas custom for the Scheepers family and resonate with a generous Oshawa community,

“We’ve had people leave cards and you get messages on social media,” he said. “That’s what keeps it going. For other people to come by and say ‘It’s part of our family tradition to come here’ it’s kind of neat.”

In front of the display, a bin accepting non-perishable food donations is “full every night” in December, he said.

“There’s extra stuff lying around [the bin] and people put stuff on the porch,” Scheepers said.

Five or six truckloads of goods are donated to the Simcoe Hall Settlement House annually, he said. Scheepers said seeing the charitable response from the public is very rewarding.

“Rather than just to come out and see the lights, [the community] will go out of their way to stop at whatever grocery store and bring stuff,” he said. “That shows people do care about it and they recognize that it’s doing some good.”

Now until Christmas, you can visit their home in east Oshawa (near Olive Avenue and Townline Road) with a donation between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. to see and hear the light show.