February 20, 2010

'Burnham Light Show' mixes color, music


BURNHAM -- For weeks people have flocked to a dark field along a lonely stretch of road to view brightly lit Christmas displays complete with colorful scenes, caroling and wise-cracking characters.

WELL LIT: Lighted images of Christmas trees, a home and figures fill a field off Morgan Road in Burnham as part of the “Burnham Light Show.” From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day until Thursday, people may watch the half-hour program that consists of synchronized music and lights created by Cliff and Sheila Palmer. The event is free.

Staff photo by David Leaming

For the second year Cliff and Sheila Palmer have created a show that dazzles people from all over central Maine and even some from out of state.

The parking area on the edge of a field on Morgan Road is packed with families and the curious to watch the 43,000-light displays that are synchronized to music and dialogue.

The "Burnham Light Show" is the product of months of work, a pile of money including a spike in the electric bill, luck with the weather and nearly two miles of outdoor extension cords.

The half-hour shows are filled with alternating images of Santa on a speeding Harley Davidson motorcycle, musicians, a house, candy canes, and two talking head characters named Blockhead and Booger.

Shows continue through Thursday each night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and no admission is charged.

The Palmers begin building their light show in the fall. They use eight computers to synchronize the choreographed displays and broadcast the music to 98.1 FM.

"We do this for the community," Cliff Palmer said recently between shows. "There is nothing like it in the area, and people like it."

After driving a half-mile on Morgan Road off Troy Road signs point to the field to a parking area facing the woodline. Another sign tells viewers to turn off headlights and tune into radio station 98.1 FM. At the end, viewers exit the field with horns beeping, signaling an appreciative audience.

Brenda and Stephen Cole of Thorndike watched a recent show.

"It was wonderful," Brenda Cole said. "It must have taken so much time to create." She added she was so impressed they plan to bring relatives to see the show over the holidays. "It was well worth the drive here."

Sheila Palmer said she is pleased the show is popular and that people come back. "I've seen cars lined up along the road to get in," she said recalling more than 200 cars on a recent weekend. "If people come see the show they will like it, and if it puts a smile on their face then that's what we want."

David Leaming -- 861-9255


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