Student Uses Computer Skills to Spread Holiday Cheer


Photo Courtesy of Fletch Rydell

Rydell and his family produce a Christmas light show in time with holiday music for his house every year. The show uses RGB lights and allows Rydell to utilize his computer programming skills.

Sandhya Ganesan, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As the holiday season goes into full swing, many become very passionate about one popular American tradition: Christmas lights. Senior Fletch Rydell has turned this tradition into a seasonal business, and an opportunity for him to spread holiday cheer. 

Rydell works for a family friend’s company, programming Christmas light shows to music for various locations around the area. His familiarity with the programming came from the responsibility he shared in his family, as his family puts on a light show at their house, which for the past 11 years, Rydell has helped produce. 

Aside from his own house, Rydell programs a show for the Del Mar Highlands Town Center community area every year, which is the biggest project he does. “It’s basically this big 35 foot or 40 foot tall tree. It’s like a Christmas tree but covered in surfboards, and each surfboard has a string of lights around it. I program all of the surfboards to go to the music,” said Rydell. 

Rydell’s process of programming light shows starts with the basic RGB lights, he then programs each output to have a certain amount of lights. After this, he uses a program called FalconPlayer, which programs each light to change colors and turn on at certain times during the song. 

“My dad mostly did it for the first few years. Then, I guess about six years ago my brother and I started taking over it, that was when we switched,” said Rydell. When they started the tradition, Rydell’s house had lights that were plugged into a device that synced the lights to music. Soon after, he and his brother took over the job when they switched to using RGB lights for the display. 

Now that his brother is in college, Rydell has taken on the light show himself, in addition to coordinating a few shows for his boss. His favorite show he’s programmed goes to the song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” performed by the US Navy Band. “I spent like 20 hours making the show, so it was a lot of work for that one song, but it ended up looking pretty cool.” 

Though his job is seasonal, Rydell uses the light show as an opportunity to strengthen his skills. “Some of (the skills) are just knowing. I do computer programming and have done it in other contexts and that has been an important thing for my job and I have gotten better at it,” said Rydell.