WHO IS RUSTY GRISWOLD?

Hi there.  I'm Mike M., and I live in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.  Like many others, I am also inspired by the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  By building my Christmas light display each year, I try to recapture the excitement and magic of Christmas morning for kids.  Now as an older kid, I'm sharing my enthusiasm for the season through Christmas lights.  Although my display pales in comparison to other productions, I'm quite proud of what my house has become during the Christmas season.  


So why Rusty and not Clark?  It's simple.  The title of "Clark Griswold" in Burlington, Ontario, Canada will be forever held by Doug Musson.  His display spread the joy of Christmas for many years in Burlington, and Southern Ontario.  Having visited his display in the past, it added to my inspiration.  Like the Musson family, I too am a former Calgarian.  Call it 'western hospitality' to respect the original, one and only, Clark Griswold of Burlington, Ontario.  I'm proud to carry on the Griswold tradition in Burlington, as Rusty.

(I am NOT related in any way to Mr. Musson or the Musson family.)

WHEN DO YOU START HANGING UP LIGHTS?

I have adopted the Gingerbread House theme from 2017 as my foundational template, so typically, I start building the display around the 2nd week of October.  Blueprint designs for new props need to be drawn up and completed by April at the latest.  I start checking older strings and props typically in June/July, preparing a list of things I might need for repairs.  At the same time, I begin buying supplies.  Regardless of when everything is hung, I do not turn on the lights until the first weekend after Remembrance Day.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT TO YOUR ELECTRICITY BILL?

Over the years, the technology for Christmas lights has improved.  As I continue to adopt LED bulbs from conventional, my wattage/amperage requirements drop, which results in lower power consumption.  Hydro rates differ depending on where you live, but my display of ~7,000 bulbs in 2020 cost me an average of $1.25 / night.

For comparison, 1,000 incandescent mini-lights require 408 watts of power to run.  The same quantity of LED mini-lights requires only 69 watts, or around 83% less electricity.


When doing my calculations, as a general rule of thumb for C9 LED bulbs, I follow:

100 bulbs = 9.6 watts = 0.083 amps

DO YOU USE ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF ELECTRICITY SUCH AS GENERATORS?

No.  All electricity is provided through standard household outlets.  Most household outlets are either 15 or 20 amps.  As a general rule, you should never exceed 80% of a circuit's maximum wattage capacity.  A 15 amp circuit supports 1,440 watts at 80%, and a 20 amp circuit supports 1,920 watts at 80%.  Using four separate circuits, I supply more than enough power safely to my entire display.  (Please have a certified electrician validate and authorize your circuits as safe.  I am not a licensed electrician and do not warranty these values.)

DO YOU TAKE FINANCIAL DONATIONS OR PROFIT IN ANY WAY?

No.  I do this as a labour of love, and my payback is watching people on a nightly stroll stop to take pictures or tell me a simple "thank you" when I'm outside or through an email.  If you feel so inclined, please donate to your local food bank, as there are families this time of year who could benefit much more through that kind of donation.  I am recognized as a Bronze Leader with the United Way, so feel free to donate to them if so inclined.   

The music/audio heard in my show or shared in a video on Facebook or YouTube is copyright by their respective owners.  I do not own the song(s), nor do I profit in any way by their use.  All music is purchased through retail methods and can be proven via an auditable record of receipts.  

HOW DO YOU SYNC THE MEGA TREE AND OTHER PROPS TO MUSIC?

Much research has gone into this, and although the build and control of the tree and props are relatively straightforward, there is an investment of time and money required.  Many vendors on the internet provide the individual hardware components, do your research before selecting a primary provider.  I have yet to find any Canadian suppliers but would love to hear from you if you are one. 


There are many different ways to build a mega tree, the following list is what I use:


Hardware


  • AlphaPix 16 V3 - E1.31 & ArtNet to SPI Pixel Controller w/LCD Display

  • Power Supply - 5v / 300 to 350 Watts (w/ 120v AC Input Cord)

  • Weather Resistant Enclosure

  • 16 pairs of Male + Female EasyPlug3 Pigtails

  • 16 PixNode Classic Strips - 12mm RGB Node (be sure to buy an extra strip as you will need some spacing room, and therefore, need to extend the strips.  One extra should do it.)

  • 16 - WS2811 Pixel strings, 50 count 12mm (yes pixels are LED's)

  • Dedicated computer with two NICs (one wired, one wireless) running Windows O/S (you can use a Raspberry Pi instead)

  • Optional: DSP PLL FM Transmitter

  • Maybe 150 zip ties give or take

  • 16 - 15" bungee cords to apply tension to each strip

  • 19 - Outbound ABS tent pegs (one for each strip, and at least three for guide wires to support the centre pole)

  • 1/4" inch utility braid rope

  • 1 - 4 foot piece of rebar

  • 1 - 10 foot metal chain-link fence top rail.  (Last year I used a 10-foot EMT tube, but mother nature took care of that with some 80 km/h winds.)


Software


  • Freeware xLights which can be downloaded at xLights.org for sequencing lights to music

  • Licensed music in mp3 format.  (I purchase via iTunes, but others have also had success through Amazon)

  • Professional sequences can be purchased through many online vendors, or a little time spent in xLights, and you will see how easy it is to make your own.

  • And many YouTube videos for my education on how to put everything together!

ARE YOU AVAILABLE FOR HIRE TO BUILD ME A LIGHT DISPLAY AT MY HOME AND/OR BUSINESS?

No. I build my light display purely as a hobby, in hopes of putting a few smiles on faces throughout the holiday season. I’m happy to provide tips or advice so you can build your own.

WHAT STORE DID YOU BUY YOUR ANIMATED MEGA TREE/GINGERBREAD MEN/CANDY CANES/LOLLIPOPS AT?

There is no store in Canada that I'm aware of, that sells these items ready-made.  I purchase materials from multiple vendors, and assemble each item myself.

OUR NON-LEGAL LEGAL SPEAK

Any and all registered trademarks or copyrights used throughout the website rustygriswold.ca, or linked to from this website, are the property of their respected owners.  No disrespect is intended, nor am I profiting in anyway through their use. Should you own anything used on this site, and would like it to be removed, kindly send an email to rustygriswold@madole.ca outlining your concern.  No need to get lawyers involved.  We can address your concern the Canadian way...through courteous dialogue or a game of street hockey.  :)