Purser Road light display offers holiday magic

Published 5:51 pm Thursday, December 20, 2018

Pulling up to the house at 805 Purser Road, just over the Beaufort-Craven county line, Mike Purser’s home might look like a typical Christmas light display. Yet for those who take the time to pull over on the side of the road and tune their car radios to 100.1 FM, a delightful treat awaits.

As holiday tunes play through the car stereo, families can enjoy a 29-minute, 35-second synchronized light display. Lights on the house and in the yard flash and change color in perfect timing with the music, and a trio of singing Christmas trees mouth the words of the songs.

For adults and kids alike, the show is impressive both visually and in the technical knowledge that makes it happen. A low-power FM transmitter broadcasts the music, to which Purser programs every second of the sequence via a computer in his home. All told, the display took about five months to fully program.

“Think of a spreadsheet where I can adjust the horizontal spacing according to the timing of the music,” Purser explained. “Across the top, there is a wave form that shows the volumes and the beats of the music. I add effects to each spreadsheet cell.”

For Purser, the holiday tradition of his synchronized display dates back 10 years. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, Purser found himself out of work. As he was surfing the internet one day, he came across a video of a synchronized light display at a home in Provo, Utah. It was that chance website encounter that encouraged him to create a display of his own.

After finding a job that allowed him to work with his disability, Purser began collecting lights. He bought six cases of lights the first year and continued growing the display. Three years ago, he decided to stop and sold all of his lights, but the bug stuck with him. He began building the display back up, limiting it to ground elements due to his health.

“Each light has three different LEDs in it and you can mix the intensity of those colors to produce 257 different colors,” Purser said. “There are only three wires going to each pixel (individual lights).”

A low-power FM transmitter broadcasts the musical program to the car.

The display runs every day from 5:30 to 11 p.m. through Jan. 2. Upon arrival, visitors are asked to park to the side of the road, turn off their headlights and enjoy the show.

“My parents raised me to give to the community, and this is just my way of giving back to the community, as small of a gift as it may be,” Purser said. “If it’s bringing joy or wonderment to a small child’s eyes sitting in the backseat of their parents’ cars … that’s why I do it.”

For more information on the display, visit www.thelightsonpurserroad.com.