Columnists

Lighting up the night for Christmas

When Dr. Luke James started his Noblesville chiropractic business after college, he was looking for a way to build awareness.

So he decorated the outside of his office with Christmas lights.

“My dad has always loved Christmas and thought it would bring people joy during the season,” said James, who loves Christmas, too.

“People loved it, which made us continue to build it bigger and bigger,” he said.

“The first time we put up the decorations, I think it was just the windows, bushes, walkway and the skylights (and the electrical power ran off of one box and just a mounted speaker),” he said. “Since then, we have added three more (electrical) boxes, four big lit arches, lights that outline the roofline and a “mega tree of lights” on the right side of the office and two mounted speakers and an FM transmitter that feeds audio into your car.”

Christmas lights have gone up every year on his office building since 2013.

It’s always been a family project. “My dad, mom and I put up all the lights every year,” said the 2005 Sheridan High School graduate.

“Growing up, Christmas was big in our family as in decorating and the biggest holiday we celebrated every year,” James said. “My older brother (Leland) and I would joke and still do that my dad is Clark Griswold from (National Lampoon’s 1989 comedy film) ‘Christmas Vacation.’ He loves his lights.”

James and his parents, Mark and Peggy James, have a family tradition on Thanksgiving night going over to the chiropractic office to have hot chocolate with James’ niece and nephew, who are 3 and 8, and kicking off the Christmas light show.

“They love just doing these lights for the community, which is why they come out and spend two weeks or so putting everything up and getting everything set up,” he said.

“We have been putting them up since 2013 and adding new pieces each year to improve it from the previous,” James said.

“Setting up lights is an interesting process,” he said. “We had to first measure the length of cords it would require to go from certain locations back to the power source; some cords are as long as the length of the entire parking lot. We then cut the cords off of a spool and gathered a bunch of plug ends and physically made every single cord.” They mapped out which cords go where and labeled all of them so it makes it easier in years to come. They then ran all of the cords from the box to their respective locations, some being rather short to others going all of the way to the Pizza Hut parking lot next door “to light the mega tree.” They hammered in little hooks to tie the cords next to the building so it makes a nice tight fit. “We have used thousands of zipties over the years to zip tie the cords to those hooks attached to the building.”

James said, “Mind you, this is usually all done a couple weeks leading up to Thanksgiving when the weather is all over the place. We’ve been out there in the cold, snow, rain, and, hopefully, sun. We then get out all the decorations and lay those out to the pots where we want them (near their respective plugs). Dad and I have to, then, hammer in eight iron rods into the ground for four white arches (that have the most lights on them than any other part of the whole business). We hammer in stakes for the green and red light bulbs, meanwhile, Peggy, my mother, is putting multiple strands of lights on the bushes. We have also labeled every single strand of lights as to where they go so it keeps it looking somewhat the same as previous years. Once that is all done, I get the ladder and climb onto the roof, running three strands of lights at once as a giant rope of lights that we zip tied together previously. I use clips that go under the shingles and try not to fall off as it takes a while to get my balance since I don’t get on the roof often. I climb all the way up, zip tying and clipping lights around the roof, hopping over the partitions to the next portion of the roof and, doing the same, my dad will feed me light strands while Mom puts the red and green bulbs together and gets some of the computer programmed and ready.” 

James took about four hours to decorate the roof with lights this year. They measured the skylights and constructed PVC pipes to make sort of a structure that just fits right over the skylights. They attach the lights to the structures before they go over the eight skylights, so all they have to do is turn them on.

“We then do a test run to troubleshoot any bulbs that are out, strands that got unplugged, volume control for the speakers and if the FM transmitter is transmitting a strong signal,” James said.

The lights begin at 5:30 p.m. and end a little before 10 p.m. every day through the holidays. James downloaded about a dozen songs, which are synced up with a computer program that corresponds to the lights. They ensure the music is cycling through songs properly and that the music will restart when the last song is played.

“You can imagine this takes a lot of storage and you’d be correct,” James said. They store lights in his parents’ garage, James’ office and a newer shed that was placed on the property strictly for Christmas light storage.

“There are literally thousands of lights that we put up and take down every year and, recently as of this year, we just started doing a synchronized light show for Halloween.” 

As far as, are the lights good for business? “Hard to measure but people seem to like it and talk about it on Facebook and, when I’m driving by to have dinner in downtown Noblesville, we see cars parked in our parking lots watching the lights which puts a smile on our face.”

He loves serving the Noblesville community. “This community has always treated me well by referring friends and family accompanied by kind words about their care or things they enjoy about the office,” he said. “This is a small way we can show our gratitude by giving something back for people to enjoy.”

James said it’s been really enjoyable to see how his family’s love for Christmas has been expanded to a seasonal tradition that the entire community can enjoy “by loading up the family vehicle with hot chocolate in hand and coming to experience the free Christmas light and music display.”

He thinks it’s kind of comical. “People who have seen the lights have mentioned that a crew comes out to put up the lights or a company has done it when really it’s just my  mom, dad and I,” James said. “I get on top of the roof and do all the lights up top while Mom and Dad do most of the lights near the ground.”

James, who grew up in Sheridan, has always loved Christmas.

“Christmas was always great,” he said.

His dad was an Indiana State Police officer and had to work some of those Christmas mornings “but would always make sure he was there when we woke up to have our Christmas,” James said. “Mom would bake cookies, pies and turkey or ham.”

James and his only brother would play with their newly acquired toys and out in the snow, “building snowmen or snow forts that were really just little tunnels in a snowbank.”

Before Christmas Day, the Jameses would go pick out a Christmas tree, usually at Dull’s Tree Farm & Pumpkin Patch in Thorntown, and get the tree home and set it up.

“Dad always had these moving animated figures around the whole house that we would set in nearly every corner of the house,” James said.

His parents started collecting little business houses and created a Christmas village on one of the family’s bigger tables. “Today, their house is filled with getting their tree out at Thanksgiving and it’s now artificial but on a rotating stand which looks really cool,” James said. “We all help decorate and put up the tree, and Mom and Dad have built up their Christmas village to extend over every cabinet in the kitchen. They have light poles that light up, businesses and homes that are lit, a church on top of the hill they’ve created and even a mountain with skiers that go down the hill. Everyone loves that and enjoys it, and it’s like reliving our childhood when we help set all of that up.”

James’ own home is decorated more modestly, he said, because he spends so much time on the decor at his office. He has a tree in his family room next to the fireplace where a miniature poodle likes to sleep, garland on the banister and “a poinsettia on the table with a perfectly put table setting.”

He’s engaged to be married on Feb. 19, 2023, and in true fashion of the Christmas spirit, he and his fiancee, Lauren Petersen, from Bluffton, became engaged on the first snowfall last year at Potter’s Bridge. They met through mutual friends while attending an ugly sweater contest.

“I love embracing the holiday traditions the James family has established and can’t wait to make them my own and be a special part of creating the magic,” Peterson said. “I tell everyone I meet and get to spend time with during the holiday season.

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy.reason@thetimes24-7.com


Want TO GO?

What: Christmas lights synced to music.

When: 5:30 p.m. to about 10 p.m. daily through the holidays.

Where: Dr. Luke James’ Peak Performance Chiropractic office building, 815 Westfield Road, Noblesville.