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Let there be 20,000 lights at Bothell's Binary Christmas
A dazzling array of thousands of blinking Christmas lights matched with spectators donating heaps of food to Hopelink.
That’s a double dose of holiday cheer that Johan Jorna likes to bring to his Bothell neighborhood.
At the start of December, Jorna’s Binary Christmas returned for its fourth year of lights choreographed to upbeat music using more than 250 computer-controlled switches. The display — at 12313 N.E. 165th St. — is larger this year, featuring a third house and more than 20,000 lights.
“Last year, we had approximately 8,000 people come to see the lights and collected almost 1,000 pounds of food,” said Jorna, noting that a mammoth crowd of about 450 people drove by to see the lights last Saturday alone. “This year, so far visitation has almost doubled compared to last year at this time.
“I selected Hopelink as the recipient as they do excellent work. And it’s a great feeling knowing that families will have access to necessary food this winter and will hopefully make someone’s Christmas a little brighter.”
The display will run from 4:30-10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 8. Upon arrival, people can turn their radios to 88.3 FM to experience the show from their cars. There will be a collection bin available for donations of non-perishable food; this year’s goal is doubling last year’s total.
A few weeks in and the lights are working their magic, but Jorna said he had to push the start date back a bit because of some equipment failure.
Since he attends college in Portland, Jorna brought neighbor Austin Kemis on board to put this year’s show into action and expand the display to cover three houses.
“It’s not only Austin who has stepped up to make the show a reality. The lights have grown to be a neighborhood project,” said Jorna, noting that his entire family and others spend a good deal of time hanging lights and handing out candy canes to visitors. Santa has even made his way to the Binary Christmas to mingle with attendees.
Running the display is a labor of love for Jorna, who said that covering three houses in lights takes a lot of time and energy. This year, he started running cable and putting up lights in August.
“The thing that keeps me doing this year after year is come those few weeks before Christmas when adults, children and even teenagers drive up and get out of their cars with a look of wonder on their faces,” he said. “The lights bring out the Christmas spirit in everyone.
“It’s what keeps me going when people are laughing at me when they see me working on Christmas lights in March.”
Here's a video of the display from a few years ago.