Christmas in the Grove: Decatur family entertains Christmas enthusiasts with synchronized lights/music

Christmas in the Grove, a home on Oak Grove Drive in Decatur, has become a popular Christmas light display during the Christmas holiday. Photos provided by Tony and Katie Paradowski

Christmas in the Grove, a home on Oak Grove Drive in Decatur, has become a popular Christmas light display during the Christmas holiday. Photos provided by Tony and Katie Paradowski

 

Since 2010, the Paradowskis’ home has been a go-to spot during the Christmas season to see Christmas lights and decorations. 

Known as “Christmas in the Grove,” Tony and Katie Paradowski turned their home into a holiday attraction for five weeks with its animated light show that is choreographed to popular Christmas songs. From Thanksgiving night to New Year’s day, thousands of people visit the home at 1428 Oak Grove Drive in Decatur each year to see the magical display. 

Although 2010 was the first year the Paradowskis put on an animated display for Christmas, Tony said he has always put up a lot of Christmas lights. 

“I’ve [put up lights] all of my adult life—anywhere I’ve ever lived I’ve always been able to put up some sort of Christmas lights, but not to the extent that we do now,” he said.

Paradowski, who grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y., said it was a neighbor from his hometown who inspired him to fully decorate his home.

 “When I was a little kid there was a house on our street that looked spectacular,” he said. “Obviously, they didn’t have the technology that we have now, but it was just a beautiful home and gorgeous to look at. I remember [thinking] back then that I wanted to do that someday.”

Forty years later, Paradowski said he saw YouTube videos of people with light displays synchronized to music. After further research, he found the company that makes the equipment whichmost people use to synchronize lights with music. 

“They make these computerized controllers where one control box lets you plug in 16 things into it, and with the software they provide you’re able to make those 16 things turn on and off however you want to,” he said. “I bought the one controller—we didn’t use music the first year—I just wanted to see if I liked it and what the reception was from the neighborhood. All of it went well, I enjoyed doing it, the neighbors loved it and that’s when I was bitten by the bug.”

Since then, Paradowski said the display has gotten bigger and better. They even include Santa Claus, who will be at the house Dec. 16. 

The Paradowskis begin putting up lights and decorations Nov. 1 and turn on the display Thanksgiving night. Paradowski said on occasion friends and family help them put up lights.

“It’s a pretty big task but not as big as some, and obviously bigger than most,” he said.

They have nearly 150,000 lights and about 350 decorations in the display. Paradowski said their electric bill for December is nearly $350 every year due the LED lights they use. 

“Our first year we had the fewest number of lights, about 15,000 back then, and that was the most expensive year because we were using incandescent lights,” he said. “Each year, we’ve bought thousands and thousands of LEDs, but we’ve slowly but surely got rid of the incandescent lights.”

Their display gained national attention after they were featured on “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC in 2013. The Paradowskis won the $50,000 prize, beating out three other contestants. They collect donations from visitors and give the money to their favorite charity, the ALS Association of Georgia.

Paradowski said they are changing it up this year with the donations—giving the money to two people who have ALS, his step-daughters’ father and a family friend, to help them with their needs. He said if the public can’t make it out to see the display, they can still donate to the ALS Association of Georgia.

 

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