The display at 310A 22nd Street is making waves all over the city, but have you found yourself wondering who’s responsible for the design? We sat down with Chris Schneider and Ryan Powers to learn a bit more about the men behind North Pole’s Got Talent, this year’s Holiday Light Spectacular.
The friends, who met in college, put together their first design five years ago, and have definitely come a long way since those early displays.
“The original year, we didn’t do anything with music or animation, it was just Santa’s Village, Santa’s Workshop,” Chris told us, “but then the next year, Ryan, being the technical guru, said that he found something that will make everything animate to lights and music together.”
“I’m an audio guy,” Ryan added, “so of course I want there to be audio. We had enough money to buy one box, which controlled 16 things, and compared to where we are now, holy cow, that was way smaller.”
Before long, and with the help of some extra equipment, the designs were taking on a life of their own.
“Each subsequent year, we found just enough money to buy another controller, so we could do 32 channels,” said Ryan. “Then we won a nationwide decorating contest, the Grinch year, and received another controller, so then we had three.”
Neighbors, who ask throughout the year what the next theme is going to be, are all starting to get in on the act, too.
“Our block has been completely transformed,” Chris said. “Not many people decorated before, maybe a couple of houses had a few strings of lights, but nothing like now. It’s the brightest block.”
He’s not exaggerating. Dyker Heights better watch out, because even the tour groups are starting to hit 22nd Street on their holiday light rounds.
“We have a tour company that comes now,” said Chris, “and somehow we even had a bike tour that came out last year.”
“Oh, right,” remembered Ryan. “There’s a Christmas tour you can take on bikes to see lights, which I wanted to do last year, but I didn’t have time.”
That’s no surprise, considering the amount of time it takes to put the Christmas Spectacular together.
“I don’t think it would be an exaggerations to say 12 hour days, 7 days a week,” Ryan said of the design process. “And then, once you get to the stage where you have it all connected and wired, and you have to program it to the music in the computer, then you’re working from 4:30 when it gets dark, until 3 in the morning so you can see it.”
“Every single light that we control,” added Chris, “has to be put to every single beat, or note in the music. There is nothing that preprograms it. Especially something like the singing reindeer, Ryan puts in every single mouth movement, every blink. It’s a lot of work.”
Behind all the work, though, there is an underlying passion for both the holiday season and our South Slope community.
“I’ve always loved to decorate for Christmas,” Chris said, “and Ryan was the imputes behind the computer part. We were basically just sitting around one day talking about how cool it would be to do something like this in the neighborhood, and we just did it.”
We’re so glad you guys did, too.
North Pole’s Got Talent runs from now through January 5 at 310A 22nd Street. Shows are every 20 minutes on the hour, Sunday through Thursday from 5-10pm, and until 11pm on Friday and Saturday.