CAPE CORAL, Fla. — In the heart of Cape Coral, along Northeast 8th Terrace, a holiday has seen more than a million views on social media and attracting hundreds of visitors each day. This season will be the last year the display is shown to the public.
Seventeen years ago, Neil Monkman, was inspired by a beer commercial featuring lights synchronized to music from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Monkman learned the technology and techniques required to put on the display himself. The result has been a breathtaking show using software, light controllers, and over five miles of cables to synchronize the lights perfectly with music.
"I basically sit in front of a computer anywhere from 25-40 hours for one song, note by note," Monkman shares. Programming every 20th of a second for 512 individual sets of lights, Monkman has sequenced over 80 songs, each accompanied by a unique light show.
Monkman's commitment to keeping the experience fresh is reflected in his "15-second rule". No sequence in a song repeats for more than 15 seconds, ensuring that each moment of the display is as engaging as the last.
However, the time and effort required to create and maintain this holiday tradition have led Monkman to decide that this year will be the last. Setting up the display begins as early as November, and the total cost has exceeded twenty thousand dollars. Monkman is now selling the display piece by piece, hoping others will continue the tradition of spreading joy.
The display has not only been a feast for the eyes but also a means of giving back to the community.
"One year it was bulletproof jackets for police and police dogs, this year I think he's supporting the local animal shelter," says Craig Wills, a visitor.
Monkman has also previously raised funds for children's bicycles. This year, the display raised over two thousand dollars from an average of 300 visitors each evening, with some nights drawing even larger crowds. On one particularly busy night, Monkman recalls counting over 1600 cars.
As the show draws to a close, Monkman reflects on the years of joy his creation has brought to so many. "It brought a tear to my eye, knowing that I was able to instill that much joy into people," he says.
The final day of the show is December 31st, marking not just the end of the year but the conclusion of Monkman's remarkable journey in bringing light and happiness to Cape Coral.