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Broomfield couple engineers elaborate Christmas lights display

There are Christmas lights — tree trunks lit up in technicolor, front yards full of reindeer or inflatable Santas — and then there’s the house on Yates Circle.
christmas lights
Holtzmans' annual holiday light show

There are Christmas lights — tree trunks lit up in technicolor, front yards full of reindeer or inflatable Santas — and then there’s the house on Yates Circle. 

The display created by Broomfield residents Philip and Rose Holtzman looks unassuming in the daylight, with bulbs lining the house, trees and driveway and small snowmen lining the sidewalk.  But for five hours a night throughout the Christmas season, the house becomes a carefully choreographed blaze of color.

Since 2016, the Holtzmans have mounted thousands of LED pixels onto their house, garage and yard and crafted lights and music shows to celebrate the holidays. There isn’t an inflatable Rudolph in sight, but the dizzying array of color and patterns are mesmerizing enough.

Both husband and wife are engineers, and it shows in the precision and clean lines of their display as well as the detailed explanation on their website. 

The decision to dedicate countless hours to Christmas decorations wasn’t necessarily a conscious one, the Holtzmans said. Rose Holtzman was briefly unemployed in late 2015 and started experimenting with the show, with the couple managing to cover their living room with bits of wire, soldering equipment and zip tie ends. 

“It looked like a bomb factory,” Philip Holtzman said, laughing. 

Some of their passion for lighting started when they met, Rose Holtzman said. Consumer LED technology was relatively new and fascinating to both of them. 

“When we realized some of the possibilities associated with Christmas lights, it was like, why aren’t we already doing this?” she said. 

The couple lived in Arizona for four years after graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder and were stuck with a single strand of Christmas lights on their condo balcony. Then they bought a house and moved back to Colorado. 

“The possibilities became endless,” Philip Holtzman said. “We may have gone over the top a little bit with that freedom … but no regrets.” 

After the 2015 trial run, the couple saw a video of a man in San Antonio who also decked out his house with lights for Christmas. He had also uploaded how-to videos. 

“We thought, ‘We can do that,’” Philip Holtzman said. 

The couple has now created four completely different light shows. They want to have five total that they can rotate through on a five-year cycle. This year’s light show is a modified version of 2017’s show — the Holtzman’s have a newborn as well as a toddler. Rose Holtzman is the mastermind behind programming the shows, and 10 seconds of the show takes her about an hour to program. With the shows lasting 10-12 minutes, a new show can take 60-70 hours. 

Now in their sixth year of putting on a show, the Holtzmans said they are nearing capacity for what they can add to their display. 

They have 3,215 LED pixels on display, plus more lights on the trees, and while they shy away from lots of statues or inflatables, the Holtzmans did add a new interactive element this year. A cube of LEDs are hooked up to a toy drum set, guitar and steering wheel and can be used to play games, as long as people are willing to brave the cold. 

Other than contending with the occasional traffic jam, the Holtzmans generally hear good things about the show from their neighbors. The couple hosts a kickoff celebration for the neighborhood after Thanksgiving, serving up hot chocolate and cookies in the driveway and playing the show for the first time. They’ve installed signs that direct drivers to not block driveways.

The Holtzmans also hope that those who enjoy their show will turn their gratitude into donations to local charities. 

“For us, Christmas lights are fun, but it’s about more than lights and presents and everything else. There’s bigger stuff,” Rose Holtzman said.