JENKS — When Cathy Murray drives to her home in Jenks’ Yorktown neighborhood at night, sometimes she takes the long way and spends about 15 minutes parked in front of a neighbor’s house.
“You would think I’d get tired of it, but I don’t,” she said. “I go over there, and I pull up time and time again.”
That’s because the house at 12713 S. Second St. is something special.
Dubbed “Williams’ Wonderland,” it’s adorned with about 10,000 LED smart pixel lights that twinkle and dance to about 15 minutes’ worth of holiday-inspired music, attracting hundreds of people from the Tulsa area and at least one fan from the neighborhood who can’t stop coming back.
Jacob Williams, 32, got the idea to decorate his house with the intricate light and music display about a year ago.
He spent all summer in 2015 learning his new hobby and soldering together lights to construct the display, but by the time Christmas arrived, he didn’t have time to synchronize music.
His original display was good enough to attract an audience, including Murray, and he promised onlookers last year that this year, there’d be music, too.
This fall, when Murray begin noticing others decorating their homes, she and her husband trekked across the neighborhood to see if Williams had fulfilled his promise.
“And sure enough, he had (music),” Murray said. “And we were just blown away.”
The display begins with an allusion to the iconic “Christmas Vacation” scene, in which the film’s ill-fated, albeit well-intentioned, protagonist and family patriarch Clark Griswold attempts to show off his audacious Christmas light display for the first time.
Speakers play Griswold’s speech, his plea for a drum roll to announce his display (accompanied by jittering lights all across Williams’ home) and Griswold’s family’s eventual chiding when the lights don’t ignite.
Then, like in the movie when the lights finally illuminate, Williams’ house does, as well, all to the tune of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
The display continues for about 15 more minutes, cycling through a mix of popular Christmas songs and some Star Wars music.
After Hominy High School, Williams’ Alma mater, won the Class A state football champion earlier this month, he added the school’s fight song and a purple and white light show to the end.
For Jenks resident and Hominy native Daniel Adams, 41, the fight song was a nice addition to what he called one of the “most impressive” displays he’s ever seen.
“For anyone coming from Hominy, it was definitely unique and just makes you smile that much more,” Adams said.
Starting the hobby
Williams doesn’t necessarily think he was more of a Christmas fanatic than a normal kid when he was younger, but he has always had an affinity for technology and putting up lights.
He remembers that when he was a child, his parents loaded him and his sibling into the car and drove from Hominy to Tulsa to look at light displays. He saw a house near 41st Street and Yale Avenue that was glowing with incandescent — or “old school,” as Williams calls them — bulbs and featured its own musical accompaniment.
As a child, he was mesmerized by the display, and as he got older he began to realize that the only thing standing between him and a light show of his own was the willpower to learn and then just doing it.
He began watching Youtube videos of other light displays and thought it wouldn’t be that hard to make one, and he got started.
“Well, obviously it is. It’s a lot harder than I thought to actually get there — and it’s stupid expensive,” Williams said.
He doesn’t a have a total for how much the display has cost him, and he doesn’t really want to know because he’s afraid his wife, Jennifer Williams, might kill him if he told her.
When reflecting on his multiple trips to the residence, Adams said, “You can’t help but look at it and wonder how much money and time was spent on that.”
The light show’s cost is one of the most common questions Williams’ gets, in addition to inquiries about his profession (he’s self-employed in the oil and gas business) and whether he built the display himself (he did).
But it’s all worth it when he sees how people react to his lights and thinks about how those reactions will mold into memories as time passes. And even if the lights don’t leave a lasting impression on onlookers, he hopes it makes them happy.
“Hopefully, I can take their minds off of all the BS in life, for a little bit at least,” he said.
For 15 minutes at least, to be more precise.