Local lights up Valley with Christmas light display

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

VALLEY — A local Eagle Scout, former Valley High drum major and current Auburn University senior has designed and built a Christmas lights display at his parents’ home on 26th Avenue in Valley. That’s the street directly across from the Madonna and Christ Child display, and it’s been drawing lots of visitors since it was lighted for the first time on Dec. 2. It’s final run for 2018 will be taking place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27. It’s a 193 channel, computer-controlled show. It’s so carefully synchronized that some functions that take a half second took three of four hours to program.

Ruslan McCain’s display has 40,000 lights, 5,000 feet of extension cord and 300 plugs. The show can pull 36,000 watts and 125 amps.

“It wasn’t put together in five minutes,” he said. “It was designed over a long period of time. The planning and organizing I needed to do for my Eagle Scout project really helped.”

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That took place in 2009. He was a member of Troop 9009 and his dad, Tim McCain, was the scoutmaster at the time. He renovated the city park in Langdale.

“It required replacing the swings, putting in gravel and cleaning up the shrubbery,” Ruslan said.

He also credits the music background he has from his days with the Pride of the Valley VHS band for helping him. “You learn to do everything in sync,” he said.

The major learning experience that led to this came in Auburn University’s College of Engineering, where McCain is a rising senior. He’s on track to graduate next fall. “That really helped,” he said. “You don’t have to be an electrical engineer to do something like this, but what you learn in college helps you plan for it. You plan it and figure out what to do before you start. You know how many lights you need, how many plugs and extension cords you need. You know how much pull it will have. It’s important to have it fully designed before you start buying what you need.”

“At Auburn, they teach you how to plan and organize a project,” he continued. “It’s important to know 100 percent of what needs to be done before you get started.”

Ruslan credits childhood friend and fellow VHS Class of 2013 alum A.J. Hadaway for being a big help in the project.

“He’s a good decision-maker,” he said. “I have the engineering brain, and A.J. is very practical about everything. My parents (Tim and Cherie McCain) and my sister Leah helped a bit too.”

The centerpiece of the display is a lighted 60-foot tree topped with a five-foot tall lighted star. It’s in the McCain’s backyard.

From 6 to 9 p.m. on weeknights and 6 to 11 on Fridays and Saturdays it’s been the most watched tree in Valley with 6,000 multi-color lights forming a triangle.

The tree is impressive enough on its own but the real crowd pleaser is Santa’s sleigh rising toward the star.

“Santa has flying reindeer, and people really love it,” Ruslan said. “For years I have talked to people about what they liked in Christmas displays. They love a flying sleigh, and the higher the better.”

There’s a pulley system pulling the sleigh. Ruslan learned how to do that at Auburn. “They teach you safety,” he said. “Everything runs the way it was designed to run.”

While the backyard is a show stealer, the front yard is pretty good, too. “We have four main displays,” Ruslan explains. “There’s one along the face of the house. We have a mega-tree and 12 minions and two North Poles. Those are the main displays, but we also have some smaller, eye-catching designs.”

Ruslan’s amazing display encouraged neighbors to do more in the way of yard decorating this year.

“On our first night we had over 200 people come by,” he said. “With so many people coming down the street, that encouraged others who lived on the street to decorate a lot, too.”

Ruslan encourages everyone to check out his Facebook page: McCain_lights and to offer suggestions on how he can improve what he did this year in 2019. “We will be updating what we’re planning to do,” he said. “I’m open to ideas on what we can do to make it better. If anyone has any old lights they’re thinking about discarding, bring them to me. We have a repair shop and can get them working again. Don’t throw them away. We can use them.”

The display features four main songs: “Deck the Halls,” “Let It Snow,” “Carol of the Bells,” and “Little St. Nick.”

He’d like to have more music next year and is open to suggestions 0n that.

Ruslan has no idea of what the power bill is going to be next month, but wants to thank those who have made donations to help with the cost.

“Every little donation helps,” he said.

It’s clear he does not want this to be a one-time thing and that he’d like for it to be an annual attraction.

“I have had a lot of fun with this,” he said.