Christmas lights at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

David Barshow surrounded by Christmas lights at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

Be prepared to be dazzled, not to mention transfixed. The trees in the front courtyard of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC) on Santa Cruz Avenue have been decked out with 12,000 LED Christmas lights that sparkle nightly from 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

“This is the first of its kind of display — and it’s right here in Menlo,” said David Barshow, the person credited with the idea and design. “You can control the lights around you using a smart phone (iPhone or Android). Just make sure you have GPS enabled.  Go to olightdivine on your smart phone for control.”

David, who was on the staff at MPPC from 2007 to 2011 and is now the volunteer lead tech for the Sunday night Sanctuary service for young adults, pitched the idea to church administrators in September.

“I didn’t think it would happen this year, even if approved,” he said. “But, I got an almost immediate ‘go’ and then the work began.”

David collobarated with a team of about 20 volunteers to make it happen. They sampled lights from various manufacturers, and once the light strings were selected and purchased, they assembled the control boards. Then, they programed the software to control the control boards.

“It probably took close to 700 hours to prepare everything,” said David.

The payoff is a great light show for the whole community to enjoy. “It’s fun,” said David. “You run around, and the lights follow you. Kids really love it.”

As locals become more aware of the interactive display and come down to see it, smart phones in hand, we were curious about what happens when there are more than one controller.

Replied David: “You control the lights around you, so if two people are in the same area, their effects fade together. If one is red and one is blue, the result would be purple.”

Note: Sanctuary is hosting The Concert Before Christmas on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 7:00 pm, “that’s fit for the whole family.”

Photo by Scott R. Kline