Local Teen Creates Holiday Light Display

Sam Schunk's Ardsley home is decorated with more than 3,000 lights that twinkle to 26 songs.

Bigger has always been better for Ardsley resident Sam Schunk. As a child, he would beg his parents to add even more lights to the family’s holiday display.  

“I’ve always loved decorating the house for Christmas,” said the 15-year-old. “

Two years ago he took matters into his own hands and started hanging his own lights.

“I really like to be able to go on the roof,” said Schunk. “Any excuse to use a ladder!”

However, last year, hanging a few strings wasn’t enough. Schunk was compelled to create an even grander display with a kit that would synchronize blinking lights with the sound of five different pre-programmed songs.

“But that wasn't enough for me,” said the Ardsley High School sophomore. “This year I bought a light controller with 16 channels. I spent most of October programming 16 different lighting features to turn on and off, fade, sparkle and twinkle the way I wanted to for 26 different songs. Both Christmas songs and some pop songs.”

He even constructed and painted a fake chimney on his roof and put an inflatable Santa Claus that pops out of it (weather permitting) making it the biggest Christmas light display he’s ever made with more than 3,800 traditional and icicle lights, trees, candy canes and other decorations.

Schunk’s family had most of the lights used in his display, while some of them were hand me downs from his aunt and uncle. Schunk also saved us to buy some LED lights to save electricity.

“I love light shows, and firework shows, and I'm so glad I got to create my own,” said the Ardsley teen. “I hope everyone enjoys watching it, as much as I have enjoyed designing it, programming it and setting it up. I've been working with electronics for a long time.”

Schunk—who has worked with his older brother’s DJ company and has provided lighting and sound at school functions and concerts since the fourth grade—says that family, friends and neighbors often stop by to watch the display and listen to the music.

“My grandfather is 91, and his memory isn't great, but when I saw him a few weeks after Thanksgiving he still remembered my light show,” said Schunk.

He was even contacted to audition for a Christmas Lights television show for ABC that will air next year, however the Schunk family declined to participate this year. 

For Schunk’s family and friends who aren’t able to visit the home, he has created a Facebook page “The Schunk Family Christmas Lights” with YouTube videos of some of the songs. According to Schunk, his display wouldn’t be possible without his family.

“My family is very supportive of this whole thing,” said Schunk. “They help me out whenever I need it, taking me to stores, spotting me for safety when I'm working on the roof and giving me feedback on my programming. They're also a great audience. They run outside to watch whenever I upload a new song, so they can see it right away.”  

The Schunk Family Christmas Lights, at 3 Shady Rd. in Ardsley, will be up through the beginning of January from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. (after that the lights stay on without music).

Do you have a holiday lights display? Enter the Patch Holiday Decorated House contest here .

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Beth Propper December 14, 2012 at 04:30 PM
This is a great article. We were trying to figure out how to do our best planning for "drive around and look at holiday lights with the radio on" -- a Propper family tradition for over half a century! And now you have provided us with the first stop on our itinerary. Looking forward to checking out the Patch Holiday Decorated House contest as well! Hope this will be an annual event!
Lisa Gordon December 14, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Drove by the other night to see the house. Unbelievable!! Sam you did such a great job. The house is decorated so beautifully and the lights are so striking. I watched the house for a few minutes, just to take it all in. You are very talented and have really outdone yourself this year.
Dina Sciortino December 14, 2012 at 07:38 PM
If anyone has a favorite decorated house in the Rivertowns, let us know here!


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