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Free Christmas Lights Display: Mike Bagwell's Animated Lights

100,000 lights make up the display

December 16, 2010|Doug Magditch | dmagditch@kspr.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Thomas Edison would be so proud. So would Clark Griswold.

There's really no way to describe it, except to see it.

"This is awesome," says Victoria Fair, who was visiting Wednesday night with her daughter Miranda.

Mike Bagwell's Christmas display, at 2008 East Cambridge St, includes 100,000 lights across five yards, and 1,000 ways to control them.

"That's 1,000 different things we can turn on and off, which gives us the really cool animation that you see," says Bagwell.

The display was three months in the making.

"I always say I love christmas, and I love christmas lights. To me, Christmas, you've gotta share it with people," says Bagwell.

It's a far cry from what he grew up with.

"It was strictly gutter lights. We decorated the gutter, and we decorated the tree," says Bagwell's father, Henry Bagwell.

Now, Bagwell lives next door to his childhood home. You'll notice it as the house behind the ice skating rink.

"My father's been a big supporter of mine, and he's my extra help," says Bagwell.

"He always reaches out. The sky's the limit," says Henry Bagwell.

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Bagwell's first display was 7 years ago. Every year it expands.

"It was going through my head, 'it's expensive and where will it end? when will it stop?" laughs Henry Bagwell.

Bagwell plans to add a ski lift in 2011.

"I thought, 'What's all the traffic?' It's this house," says Fair. She stumbled on Bagwell's display while driving around town, looking at the lights.

Bagwell doesn't do any advertising, but estimates 13,000 people visit his street for the lights every year.

"Their eyes light up, and their children giggling and laughing, and you bring joy and happiness to them. That makes it all worth it," says Bagwell.

"To me, the expense really stands out, but to him it's a hobby," says Henry Bagwell.

Donations go to pay for the electric bill, and to a youth group at Bagwell's church. That group is called the 'Royal Rangers.' They help with installation and tear-down.

"Setup is three months, over 300 man hours," says Bagwell.

Even without the donations, Bagwell says his lights wouldn't go out. Money isn't what it's all about.

"Some of them said that's what their christmas presents were. It kind of breaks your heart, but when you see them so happy, and what it means to them, you got to do it again the next year," says Bagwell.

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