One of the problems with having a green Christmas is that winter nights around here can get really dark without snow. Fortunately, Dave Mikowski has a cure for that.
If you drive out to his neighborhood in Long Lake Township anytime during the next few weeks, you’ll be treated to all the Christmas lights you could wish for – thousands of them – all choreographed by computer to blink and flicker in time to a 50-minute loop of holiday tunes. (You can listen to the music, too – by simply tuning your car radio to 99.5 FM when you’re in the neighborhood.)
“I just sit back and watch people go by,” he says. “Sometimes the kids will go out and hand out little candy canes, but mainly we just like to see people enjoying themselves.”
Though the display is just north of North Long Lake Road, it wouldn’t be easy to find -- except that the Mikowskis have put together a great little Facebook page, "Christmas on Kimberly Lane" that includes driving directions, an interactive map, and even recommendations for desserts (Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream is nearby, after all) and dinner. (Dave recommends the take-out pizza and chicken at the Long Lake Grocery, which is pretty much just around the corner.)
Mikowski was bitten by the Christmas-light bug five years ago when he was working as a port crane operator in Anchorage, Alaska -- a place that knows a lot about long dark winter nights. Last winter was his first Traverse City display, and he was shocked at how quickly people found out about it. On some nights there would be 30 cars at a time coming up Kimberly Lane.
Last winter, he estimated there were 10,000 individual bulbs in his display -- and although he says he doesn’t count them anymore, he thinks he may be close to 15,000 this year.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to drive all the way out to Long Lake, you might just amble over to 143 E. 9th St. (near Cass, just south of the Old Town Playhouse) where Dave’s brother, Rob Mikowski, has a Christmas display of his own. “He may even have more lights than I do,” says Dave. “I know he’s been at it longer than me. We’ve got a friendly little competition going.”
Rob has his own Facebook page, "Tis the Season to be Merry." His lights put on a limited show from 5-9 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, and a full “kick-out-the-jams” show from 6-9 pm Wednesday through Sunday. (Again, the music is on 99.5 FM during full shows.)