Once upon a time, Lynn Haven, Florida, resident David Price visited drive-through Christmas lights themed displays in Alabama. It changed his life forever.
After seeing the spectacle of the twinkling lights, hearing the near-magical combination of festive Christmas music with the tiny lights, and feeling a sense of joy well up inside of him, he knew this was something he needed to do to bring holiday cheer, holiday spirit, and a new holiday tradition to his community back home in Florida, so that’s exactly what he did.
The first time David set up a Christmas lights show outside his home with programmable lights, it was as part of a competition between him and his friend to see who could make the brightest display. He refers to that year’s Christmas lights show presentation as “cheap and cheesy,” but after receiving huge community support and appreciation, David says he decided to do it bigger and better the next year, and not just with the dazzling lights.
“When I first started, I knew I was doing the right thing because [I got] so much positive feedback from people coming to see the lights,” Price said. “So each year, I plan to build it more and make it better.”
David’s 2021 version of the programmable Christmas lights show isn’t only his biggest and best yet, it might just also be the most magical of them all, thanks to a little help from Walt Disney World.
Well, a soundtrack to one of its most popular nighttime spectaculars, anyway.
This year, residents who live in David’s Lynn Haven community are in for a real Disney treat, full of Christmas spirit and festive decorations, as David has created a Christmas lights show that’s 20 minutes in duration and is set to the “Happily Ever After” soundtrack from Disney World’s “Happily Ever After” nighttime spectacular, which first debuted at Magic Kingdom Park on May 12, 2017. The spectacular display of projections, fireworks, and beautiful lights was part of a nightly celebration at Magic Kingdom until the parks closed in March 2020. The show didn’t start up again until July 2021.
“Happily Ever After” took its final bow at Disney World on September 29, 2021, to make way for “Disney Enchantment,” a new nighttime spectacular that began as the Walt Disney World Resort kicked off the 50th anniversary celebration of the opening of the parks in Florida.
But David’s show has just made its holiday debut. Each presentation of the show is 20 minutes in duration and features more than 100,000 twinkling Christmas lights that seem to dance and move to music from the “Happily Ever After” soundtrack.
David hand-made all of the decorations used in the show, and this year’s show also features angel wings and spotlights that he only recently added. There is also a Christmas light tree that stands 3 stories high, two inflatable tube men that move in synchronization with the Disney Parks original music, a bubble machine, and just for good measure, David also has two flat-screen televisions as part of his storytelling setup.
But a Christmas lights show like this one isn’t cheap. David says over the years, he’s invested about $50,000 in his equipment, like lights, a transmitter, decorations, etc. Last year, as part of the display, David started accepting donations from those who came to see the show. Donations benefitted Project 25, a toy drive organized by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, and a food bank run by a retired member of the sheriff’s office called An Angel’s Pantry. Last year, David’s light show saw donations of more than $4,000 in cash and more than 800 toys for little ones.
Becky Johns, who organizes the Project 25 effort, says David’s light shows have driven lots of donations to the toy drive.
“It’s just unbelievable what David does for the community, and we’re blessed to have him on board,” Johns explained. “I usually work all the way until Christmas Eve so I can make sure the kids have what they need.”
“The amount of donations received during the holidays helps sustain the food bank throughout the year,” said Sally Sparks, who organizes An Angel’s Pantry.
David says he can expect as many as 1,000 visitors to his Christmas lights show each evening. He even has help from the Lynn Haven Police Department, which helps direct traffic on those busier nights.
David’s first show this year was presented on Thanksgiving night and will play every night from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. until January.
“Every dollar that I’ve spent on this light show is for others to come and have a good time,” David said. “It’s about putting my heart and soul into everything I do because it’s an incredible feeling for me to see people come and spend family traditions here.”
What’s next for David? Will next year’s Christmas season light show feature live music, real reindeer, live entertainment, or a carriage ride? Maybe pony rides or a train ride? We’re not sure, but we’re counting on David’s “bigger and better every year” approach.
Thanks to David, this Christmas holiday season will be one that finishes with a happily ever after, indeed, for everyone involved.