BRONSTON - At the end of Villager Resort Drive sits the home of Keith and Terry Frank. For 11 months of the year, it is your typical southern Pulaski County home. But for the month of December, the Frank's modest home is transformed into an elaborate Virtual Christmas Light Show.
Nearly 32,000 LED lights are synchronized to 21 different songs, ranging from traditional Christmas music to some Trans Siberian Orchestra favorites, that are piped into the guest's car stereo via a FM transmitter. A total of 21 electrical controller boxes operate the thousands of dancing lights adorned over a large array Christmas props spread across the Frank's front and side yards. A 40-foot tall vertically lighted Christmas Tree serves as the center of an extravagant Light Show that spreads across the Frank's vast property.
Guests have the option of driving through the Frank's private driveway or parking along the drive to soak in more of the Winter Wonderland Light Show. And if one drive-thru is not enough, guests can circle around and drive through the Light Show again and again.
"I guess you can call this our gift to the local area or it is just our way of giving back to the community," the Frank couple explained. "This is a Christmas project we enjoy putting together, and our reward is seeing the joy it brings to others."
Keith Frank, who retired from the Navy after 28 years of service, wanted to be near a lake so that he could pursue his passions of hunting and fishing. And in 2008, Keith and his wife Terry relocated from Virginia Beach to Bronston, Ky., where they found a new home at the end of Villager Resort Drive and Military Road.
Although Keith Frank still held down a full-time job after retiring from the Navy, he was able to spend more time pursuing some his favorite hobbies.
"Besides hunting and fishing, I was an avid ham radio operator and I loved going to watch the Trans Siberian Orchestra whenever it performed nearby," Keith explained. "I learned a lot about electricity from operating a ham radio, and I was always fascinated by lights synchronized with music."
And it was those two passions that gave Keith Frank the idea of creating his own private synchronized Christmas Light Show.
"I had always put up Christmas lights around the house, but I soon got the idea of synchronizing the flashing lights to music," Keith Frank stated.
With multi-colored synchronized Christmas lights stringed around the house, music blaring from their home stereo speakers, and an eight-foot lighted tree in the front yard, the Frank's were ready to audition their first Christmas Light Show in the winter of 2009.
"The only people that saw our first light show, in 2009, was a handful of close friends and family," laughed Keith Frank.
In the first couple of years of the Frank's Christmas Light Shows, people were not really sure how to proceed or best view the Lighted Winter Wonderland.
"Our house is at the end of the road, and hardly nobody wanted to drive down our private driveway, and they just watched the show from afar," Keith Frank recalled. "Once cars did start coming through our drive, people were afraid to stop and look because other cars were behind them and they didn't want to hold up traffic."
As the Frank's Christmas Light Show grew in size and complexity, they also figured out the logistics of allowing people to navigate through the sea of dancing colored lights. Also, the Franks piped the music in through a small FM transmitter, so that guests could enjoy the music from the comfort of their car radio.
"I purchased the small property adjacent to our driveway and converted it into a parking space, so that guests could pull off the driveway and watch the lights as long as they wanted without fear of blocking other cars," Keith Frank explained. "At the front end of our driveway, we put up a sign saying, "Don't be shy, come on in"."
Much like Santa Claus streamlined his 'Elf Toy Making' process in the great North Pole, the Franks had worked out a system to allow local residents to enjoy their Christmas Light Show. And before long, without any formal advertising or public postings, people were coming in droves to Bronston to see the Frank's Virtual Light Show.
Over the last 11 years, Keith Frank has added more and more content to his already overwhelming Light Show. Free-standing lighted stars, a 40-foot light tree with 16 170-lighted lines, an animated Santa Claus hologram, and LED beam lights are just a few of the latest additions added to the Frank's Light Show. Each year, Keith Frank searches out new ideas for his Light Show to share with his multitude of onlookers.
Last year alone, the Franks registered 1,600 cars driving through their Lighted Winter Wonderland in the month of December.
Having thousands of cars drive through your private property might be unbearable for most people, but the Franks rejoice in seeing and meeting people enjoy their Light Show.
"We can monitor the cars driving through with video monitors in our house," Keith Frank stated. "Lots of times when we see kids in the yard playing and dancing to the music, we come out and bring them candy canes or just watch them enjoying the show."
But it is not just kids that are fascinated by the thousands of dancing lights that surround the Frank's property. Church buses, nursing home vans and large family gatherings make their way to the Frank's southern Pulaski County home every December.
"Last year, we had a short school bus pull into the driveway," Terry Frank laughed. "We went out to greet them and found out it was a large family gathering of about 35 members."
Keith Frank has no idea how much personal money he has spent, over the years, on his virtual light show. But for the Franks, it is not about the money. It is about giving back to the community, spreading Christmas joy and watching others enjoy what they have created.
And despite being offered money by some of their many guests, the Franks say they want no monetary offerings in return.
"Guests want to hand us money all the time, and I always tell them to keep their money and donate it to a charity like God's Food Pantry," Keith Frank stated. "A lot of people think we have a huge light bill for the month of December. Actually it doesn't increase that much. These are all low-energy LED lights and the lights are constantly flashing on and off, and never staying on for a long period of time."
And while the Keith and Terry Frank have enjoyed a lifetime of memories just by watching other people from their own community enjoying their Christmas Light Show, they have also created a Frank family tradition. With two adult children and two grandchildren, the Franks hope that their Christmas Light Show will be carried on by their offspring for future generations to enjoy.
Building their Virtual Light Show used to take up much of the month of November to assemble. But with the help with his family, the set-up has become more streamlined and less time consuming.
"I get so excited when I start putting up the lights, and now I have family members helping me out with the assembly," Keith Frank stated. "Our kids and grandkids live in Lexington and come home a lot during the month of December to enjoy the Light Show. They all love to interact with the guests who come through to see the Light Show."
Over the past few years, the Frank family enjoy a new Thanksgiving tradition, that includes the usual cuisine feast and then a special premier preview of the Frank's Christmas Light Show.
For the rest of the public, the Frank's Virtual Christmas Light Show will begin on the first day of December and continue through the entire month. The Light Show begins at 6 p.m. each night and runs until 10 p.m. - and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.