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Home for the holidays
Display gains lights, following at Christmas
Light House 4 es
Larry Drum puts up some of the nearly 60,000 Christmas lights at his home on Bryn Ridge Court, off Mount Pisgah Road, in Forsyth County. - photo by Emily Saunders
If you go
* What:
Larry and Lorraine Drum's Christmas lights display
* Where: 4730 Bryn Ridge Court, off Mount Pisgah Road  (click for map)
* Remember: Tune radio to 88.1 FM

You wouldn't know it to look at it, but the thousands of blinking lights, dozens of animated candy canes and scores of glowing bulbs all started out for Larry Drum as "something to occupy my time."

Drum said he was trying to quit smoking several years ago while living in Arizona. That's when he decided to take his cigarette money and go buy a bunch of Christmas lights.

"It didn't work," Drum said. "But it did get me started decorating and it's grown more and more over the years."

Since moving to Georgia about four years ago, Larry and his wife, Lorraine, have taken well to Forsyth County.

According to resident Patti Green, the couple is right at home here in the South.

"They're a part of this community," Patti Green said. "We drive by with our kids every Christmas. It's an absolute sight to behold, and he works hard to make everything work right."

Drum does work hard. Eight months of every year are spent planning the light display and building new components to add to its overall look.

"An hour here, an hour there," Drum said. "Putting some of these things together can be hard work."

He has built just about everything in his front yard by hand during the off months. In late November, he takes a week off from work to make sure everything's good to go.

That includes making sure the computer program, which prompts nearly 60,000 lights to blink in time to a setlist of holiday songs, is free of bugs.

Visitors can tune their radios to 88.1 FM as they drive by the family's home.

"The music is key," Drum said. "It makes the whole thing blend together. In the old days, you needed DJ stage equipment to control all the lights and music ... Now computer programs are the way to go."

Drum, 54, is a computer programmer and designer, so coordinating the lights display at his northwestern Forsyth home was not unfamiliar territory.

He said it's "commercial quality equipment at a kind of consumer friendly price ... Once it's programmed, it takes care of itself, so there's no running up and down the stairs flipping switches or anything like that."

Inside the home, the holiday fanaticism continues as the couple has set up 22 Christmas trees, a 40-piece holiday village and 5,000 lights.

But according to Green, the real show is the display outside.

"It really is breathtaking," she said, adding that she plans to visit the home with her family sometime in the week ahead.

Drum said several neighbors have already been watching him decorate from afar.

"They're wondering what 'Crazy Larry' is doing," Drum said. "They don't call me that. I call myself that."

Drum said somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 people "plugged up the street" last year, watching the home light display. He hopes to draw more folks this year.

The Drums' light display is known beyond Forsyth County. Last year, the couple was a semifinalist in a decorating contest sponsored by KFC.

Drum said as the light show gets larger, he hopes to somehow contain its growth.

"Right now, it's as big as I want it to get," he said. "But you know what? Next year comes along and there's a sale on some supplies ... Who knows what's going to happen?"