Holidays in the San Fernando Valley: Lights On Display in Sherman Oaks
After a two-year hiatus, DJ Jingles and the gang is back to spread some holiday cheer!
Mike Ziemkowski, long time Sherman Oaks resident and Emmy award winning video editor, is the creative genius behind this amazing light display on Longview Valley Road. Originally from a small town in Saint John, Indiana, his childhood was filled with the magic of the holidays.
“Christmas has always been a special time of the year for my family. I can still remember the glow outside the living room window as I ran to the tree to open my gifts on Christmas morning. The house was always magically decorated inside and out. My mom took care of the inside decorations, while my dad filled the yard with handmade items, fashioned from wood and whatever else he could find. He created motorized displays of the Little Drummer Boy drumming away at the manger, Santa playing a pipe organ and a workshop fully staffed by Santa and his elves. His displays were always a must see for the small town of Saint John Indiana. As I grew up, I knew I had to continue the tradition, and by my freshman year of high school, I took over the decorating. Occasionally, my father would lend a hand, but mostly I was on my own. The display continued to grow as I added more and more lights and decorations of my own creation. I began to build my own animated figures when I realized I couldn’t afford what I saw in the malls or the department store windows of Chicago. So, each evening after school and on weekends, I would make my own animated figures fashioned from plywood, chicken wire, fabric and vending machine motors. I kept adding to the display for years until my job took most of my free time. I can still remember the rush to get the display up and running over the Thanksgiving holiday in the cold Indiana weather,” shares Mike on his website.
He moved to Sherman Oaks in 1991, where he continued the family holiday tradition and decorated his home. After much research, studying, and weeks of programming, animated lights to the music was added on. It was also the year the original Christmas tree dubbed “Z-tree” (named after a fellow decorator on Planet Christmas forum) became the focal point of the display. He added a DMX controlled intelligent lights to the display, with the ability to project patterns on the house and driveway.
In 2008, he added his first animatronic, a singing and dancing Frosty the Snowman, who was immediate hit. Dancing and pop-up singing elves, Santa in a sleigh pulled by Rudolph, and, of course, the hose of the show, DJ Jingles added on to the display over the years.
Why put on and continue to evolve this amazing display every year for Christmas?
“Each year as I stand in the front yard and watch the display, a flood of wonderful childhood memories of Christmases past resurface. My parents always made the holidays so special, and I love to be able to share a little bit of the magic they instilled in me. One of my greatest joys is watching the smiles of the children, and their parents enjoying their children’s happiness! It’s always wonderful to hear the display has become a family tradition from my visitors. I guess traditions like these and the memories they rekindle are one of most special things we have, and one of the greatest joys of Christmas.”
Every year, donations for his Christmas display go to a different organization. This year, all donations received for Lights on Display will be given the American Lung Association.
Stop by and witness this amazing holiday display in the San Fernando Valley. It promises to bring a smile on your face, a warm glow in your heart, and the nostalgia of Christmases past.
Location: 3901 Longview Valley Rd, Sherman Oaks, CA
Shows run on Wednesday and Thursday 6PM – 9PM and Friday-Sunday 5pm-10pm. Shows will run through New Year’s Day.