McCain Family Light Show Returns

Published 10:24 am Monday, December 11, 2023

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For most people who celebrate Christmas, the holiday starts in December. Raslan McCain starts celebrating in January. The creator of the McCain Lights show has grown over the years through his background in lighting, engineering and passion for his community. 

McCain has put on the show since 2017. He thought last year would be the final show because he expected to move. However, McCain was able to stay in his hometown of Valley and vowed to continue the show “until he can’t” anymore.

This year’s McCain Lights show is bigger and better than ever. The residential show has over 100,000 lights, 22 songs, and a new 35-foot tree. The tree, made of strings of lights, has always been the focal point of the show. McCain said he was able to get new equipment to make this year’s tree the largest one yet. He plans on making it taller each year.

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The lights are timed to a list of festive music. This year there are 22 songs in total. Watchers view the show from their car and turn on their radio station to see, and hear, how it all comes together. It is completely free. It runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET from Monday to Thursday and 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. The show lasts one hour and is on a loop.

Popularity has continued to grow over the years, and this year McCain averages around 100 people a night. He cautions that it may take a while to get to the optimum spot for the lights, but the wait is worth it. 

McCain was in the lighting department at Southern Union State Community College, where he was a lighting engineer for two years. He then went on to Auburn where his electrical engineering training gave him the knowledge to put this show together. 

Most people may string some cords from their gutters, but McCain’s process is a little more intensive. He uses proprietary software to design each year’s show on his computer. He puts in all his props and sets that will be a part of the show, then proceeds to “paint the show.”

“You pretty much paint on the screen in time intervals. You tell the software ]hey, I want this to happen at this particular part of the song,’” McCain said. 

He adds that his show is unique because he also paints his yard. This means in the software, he can tell where the light will shine on his yard. The yard reflects the light making it shine red, green, or any other color. So, McCain doesn’t just think about the color and timing of the lights, but how they react with the rest of the display.

He spends time throughout the year testing new props by hand-building all the displays and tinkering with the software until it is time to set up in November.

He has to set up the actual structures, then put the lights up, and finally wire everything to the computer. This year he had members of the community help him. He shouted out Allison Aikens, Bill Easel, Mike Humphrey, various neighbors, and his father and sister, Tim and Leah McCain. 

“I mean, there’s a lot of hours. But I mainly do it because I want to give the community something to look forward to during Christmas. The smiles you see, the comments over the years …that kind of drives me to want to do it every year,” McCain said. 

McCain asks people to check out and share the McCain Lights Facebook page. He doesn’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to see his best show yet. 

While he is unsure how long the show will run, McCain said it will be sometime after Christmas and before the new year. In January, he will begin preparing again. McCain said he is already really excited for people to see next year’s show.