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Christmas lights online extravaganza: Alek Komarnitsky on world-renowned annual display

Alek Komarnitsky loves Christmas -- and he's managed to spread his affection for the holiday planet-wide, thanks to Alek's Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac Disease, a web page that allows surfers across the globe to view and actually control his display of 20,000 lights and multiple giant inflatables. He shared details of this year's extravaganza from his front lawn, and I was able to see him on his site from my Westword office desk.

Komarnitsky's been putting up Christmas lights since 1998, but in 2005, he took his burgeoning yuletide showcase high-tech as a fundraiser for Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that afflicts his two sons.

He stresses that the site linked above is absolutely free to visit and use, but if a visitor wishes to donate, he or she can -- and plenty of people have over the years. He's raised more than $50,000 to fight the ailment to date.

So... what's new this year?

"I picked up a Santa skier, a Santa plane and a Santa helicopter," says Komarnitsky. You can see them amid the menagerie below:

According to Komarnitsky, the set-up this year took him a few hours a day over a one-two week stretch. Once everything's hooked up, plenty of folks drive past his Denver-area home in the evening, but not so many that his neighbors want to throttle him. In fact, he points out, "Web Cam 1 on the site is actually located in a neighbor's house across the street."

The worldwide audience is considerably larger than those who visit in person. Using geo-location software, Komarnitsky can document views from folks in 157 countries. Here's a map showing the width and breadth of the site's reach:

If all of these people showed up at the same time, this self-described "Clark Griswold-wannabe" would probably be chased out of town by an angry mob. But fortunately, there are seldom traffic jams on the web (unless your address is Wikileaks.net) -- which makes for a happy holiday season for everyone.

More about Alek from our Sports archive: "Proof that the Colorado Rockies have the biggest balls."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts