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The Suburbanite
  • Family’s traffic-stopping light display raises money to fight juvenile diabetes

  • Located in a quiet residential neighborhood down the street from Hoover High School, the Hockenberry home becomes an eye-popping, festively musical traffic-stopper for about six weeks each Christmas season.

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  • Located in a quiet residential neighborhood down the street from Hoover High School, the Hockenberry home becomes an eye-popping, festively musical traffic-stopper for about six weeks each Christmas season.
    Many area houses have holiday light displays but this one, at 919 Seventh St. NE, is reminiscent of the Clark Griswold residence from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” crossed with a Pink Floyd concert.
    With more than 65,000 computer-programmed lights synched to music — everything from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to the Chipmunks — it is no surprise that this over-the-top attraction, in its third year, draws a steady stream of cars. Plus, there’s a charitable aspect beyond the spectacle.
    “After the first year, and all the joy it brought my family and the community, it just snowballed from there,” said Chad Hockenberry of the elaborate display, which includes leaping fish, snowflakes, a shooting star and a spiral tree that appears to spin. “Plus it’s a great way to teach my children about giving back.”
    A box at the curb collects donations for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Akron Children’s Hospital. Hockenberry hopes to raise more than $2,000 this year for the two causes.
    ELECTRICITY AND NEIGHBORS
    Two questions quickly spring to mind.
    1) What is Hockenberry’s electric bill? “It isn’t that awfully bad,” Hockenberry said. “Most of it is LED lighting and it’s not on all the time. The lights turn off and on and fade. Plus we only run from dusk till 10 (p.m.) through the week and dusk till 11 on the weekends. It may cost me $100 to run the display for the entire six weeks.” Lest anyone think the donation box funds the electric bill, he promised, “It’s all for charity, we don’t keep anything.”
    2) What do the neighbors think? “Our neighbors are awesome. They love us and they put up with it and approve of it,” he said. “Sometimes traffic gets backed up pretty good, but we keep it to reasonable hours. The neighbor across the street told me, ‘I get to enjoy it more than anybody.’ Our neighbors on both sides, the Feltzes and the Pfunds, have let me encroach on their property.”
    Hockenberry, who owns Rock Hill Landscaping company, was inspired to launch his Christmas light show by a friend, Troy Swope, who has a similarly elaborate display at his home at 3556 Farnham St. NW in Plain Township.
    “Troy was doing a donation box for juvenile diabetes and Akron Children’s Hospital, and that’s ultimately why I decided to go forward with it,” Hockenberry said. “We’ve helped set up each other’s displays, plus he’s a computer guy so he’s helped me out on the technical side.”
    A MAJOR PRODUCTION
    Page 2 of 2 - Assembly for this year’s Hockenberry light show began in late October. “A real good friend of mine, Joe Berens of Berens Tree Service, brought his bucket truck over and we put 10,000 lights in the big maple tree. It took him about six hours of climbing.”
    Hockenberry’s three sons — Austin, 8; Connor, 7, and Bennett, 3 — also enjoy helping their dad build the show, he said.
    “To animate the display, we are running 240 computer-controlled channels that I can tell what to do at any given time,” he said. “We have multiple miles of extension cords across the yard. I feel like Clark Griswold a little bit.” Music, to which the lights are synched, can be heard from outdoor speakers and also by tuning one’s car radio to 93.5 FM.
    Hockenberry’s wife Charity, an art teacher at Lake High School and Uniontown Elementary School, shares her husband’s enthusiasm for the light show.
    “It gives us something to look forward to every year,” she said. “It’s exciting to see the people coming from everywhere to see the lights. It’s crazy on Christmas Eve weekend, the cars go all the way up Seventh Street. Plus it’s good to give back to the community. The boys get so excited to collect money.”
    •  To upload your holiday lighting photos, and view other lighting displays, go to   CantonRep.com/localloop.
    • The Your Life section of Thursday’s Repository will feature a guide to notable area holiday lighting displays.