This ‘illumination engineer’ raises more than just Christmas spirit

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Christmas lights aren't just about the lights anymore. More and more homeowners are transforming strands of lights into complex displays. They sync to music, attract crowds and some even go viral.

One Lakewood homeowner has embraced the new technology in several ways, but his family isn't stopping there. They found a way to add just a little more joy with their annual tradition.

Christmas spirit can’t be described in technical terms, but that doesn’t stop Brad Shrader from trying.

"I am a exterior illumination engineer," Brad said with a laugh.

In reality, Brad is the owner of a used car dealership, but for several months out of the year his garage is filled with his real passion.

"We have a herd of deer that we have to get put up," Brad said.

The deer are far from the only Christmas light decorations that slowly migrate into his front yard in late October. With the help of his sons Levi and Luke and his neighbor, he installs more than 30,000 lights.

Shrader admits the real planning begins each February, when he selects his playlist and spends hundreds of hours choreographing his lights with his computer. He then takes care of all the wiring himself.

It's no wonder why his wife Wendy Shrader calls him the Christmas Light Geek.

"As I watched him, night after night, after night, after night soldering circuit boards, the word geek just sort of popped into my head," Wendy Shrader said.

"That kind of hurts my feelings," Brad said with a laugh. "Although, they say geek is chic."

Geek is certainly in season come December. Brad's display attracts a parade of cars throughout the month, and when the crowd arrives the entire Shrader family usually greets them outside with candy canes.

“If you tune your radio to 97.7 you can hear the music," Brad said. Otherwise it’s just a lot of crazy, flashing lights and it makes no sense.”

Each year the display grows and this year Brad says the traffic has doubled.

“We get tour buses and limos,” Brad said.

When all those visitors began offering to help pay for the Shrader’s sky-high December electricity bill a couple years ago, the family encouraged them to help light up another’s family’s holiday instead.

This year, before the start of the music, the family recorded a message telling people what they can do instead.

"We would ask you to consider making a donation to the family of fallen Lakewood police agent James Davies,” Wendy Shrader said in the message.

James Davies was a Lakewood Police Officer who was shot and killed by a fellow officer two years ago while responding to a report of shots fired. The officer confused Davies for the suspect after confronting him in the dark.

James Davies left behind a wife and two young kids, and last year the Shraders decided to use their display to do what they could to help them through a difficult time of year.

“It makes you feel great to know that people are actually thinking about them during Christmas time," Brad said. "It just lets them know that the community hasn’t forgotten him.”

The Shraders don't know the Davies family personally. In fact, they have only spoken once.

“She told me she really appreciated it and thanked us for it," Brad said. "That’s enough, that was great.”

Great because his 30,000 lights and all the technical execution still can’t be described nearly as well as they can be felt.

“I’m happy every night when I come out here and do it," Brad said. "I just absolutely love it."

Instead of taking direct donations for the Davies family, The Shraders ask people to mail their money directly to the Davies Memorial Fund at Foot Hills Bank. Click here for more information on how you can help.

Follow the Christmas Light Geek on social media to see how to find his display.

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