by: Nelson Hicks Updated:
ALPHARETTA, Ga. - On any given night in December, there's a crowd of people gathered in cars around 311 Julep Court. Once an hour, a few of those people venture out from their cars to do the "Gangam Style" dance.
Mint Julep Christmas is a lights display featuring 50,000 lights dancing to music. The production uses 160 channels of computerized controllers and 23 songs which last about an hour.
"About five years ago, I saw a YouTube video and it was a video that went viral and the guy had done this kind of thing to it," homeowner Richard Nitto told Nelson's News on wsbtv.com. "And I told my wife, I said, 'Someday, I want to do that.'"
A year later, Nitto bought the equipment and has been at it ever since.
Nitto said he tries to pick a wide variety of songs so everyone will enjoy parts of the display.
The display itself starts going up at the start of November, but the planning of it is a year-round process.
"You pick a song," Nitto said. "You listen to it numerous, numerous times because you've got to program these 160 elements every tenth of a second or every second. This one goes on and then as this one goes on, you turn this one off. And over here, I want this one to be red or green or whatever."
Software allows Nitto to get a good idea of what the display is going to look like, but he never knows for sure until Thanksgiving night each year when family and friends gather around for the official kickoff of Mint Julep Christmas.
The display starts each night at 6 p.m. It runs until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. It's on an extra hour on Fridays and Saturdays.
Nitto placed a donation box outside the display. All the donations go to the Sibley Heart Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. It's a charity he's been giving to for nine years, but he stresses donations aren't mandatory. It's a free display for everyone to check out.
Besides "Gangam Style," other songs in the display this year include "All I Want for Christmas," "Amazing Grace," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Carol of the Bells," "Do You Hear What I Hear," "Frosty the Snowman," "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," "Little Drummer Boy," "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," "Silent Night," "Wizards in Winter" and four other non-Christmas songs.
This might be the final year Nitto's neighbors get a front row seat for the show. He's selling the home. When Nelson's News asked him if the lights were included or were they going with them, he said, "Well, if you're interested in buying and want to have the lights, I guess I could work that into the deal."
Other spots to see residential Christmas lights around town: