The Greatest Michiana Light Fight: Lights on Bell Road
NILES, Mich. --- A family in southwest Michigan has blended their love for the holiday season with their knack for gadgets.
The Kuespert family has been hosting the Michiana community for the past 15 years at their home for the Lights on Bell Road.
“You’re at 185 Bell Road,” said Ken Kuespert, co-creator of the Lights on Bell Road.
A stop many people, who are in the neighborhood, make during the holiday season. Season Kutemeier went to the light show on Saturday with her mother and daughter.
“It’s a little bit different here in Michigan,” Kutemeier said.
She and her daughter traveled thousands of miles from their home in Florida to visit Kutemeier’s mother in Niles and to come see the Kuespert’s drive-in light show.
“You tune into 88.3, I think, and the music goes along with the lights,” she said.
Kuespert’s wife, Pam, said the creating the light show is a lot of hard work. She said the family starts planning in September and gets to work shortly after. This year, Ken Kuespert said the showcase is using 50,000 control channels powering around 20,000 lights.
“RGB lights, multicolored lights, you see more and more of them in the stores,” said Kuespert.
Those lights have been arranged into supersized Christmas light bulbs, synced to dance to most of songs programmed in the show, along with dancing light poles, and a 50-foot light tree.
“There’s 250 on each pole,” Kuespert said. “And there’s 3,000 on the big tree.”
Kuespert said the show has definitely evolved from what it looked like 15 years ago.
“We’ll start with eight trees and then it kind of kept going,” he said.
With the help of his wife and his two daughters, Emily, 13, and Abby, 16, they were able to go above and beyond with their light show.
“They learned how to sotter about eight-years-old,” said Ken Kuespert.
However, Abby Kuespert disagrees, they learned how to at five-years-old, around the same age Ken fell in love with electronics.
“Electronics is my background,” said Kuespert. “I’ve always liked Christmas lights, always as a kid my parents would take me around and we would go looking at displays.”
Until Kuespert got old enough to make his own display, which he found pretty easy, for him.
“Oh I could do that,” he said. “I could do that, oh that’s cool.”
These skills were handed down to him from his father, Clem Kuespert, who was a chief engineer at a local TV news station.
“He taught me quite a bit about electronics,” Ken Kuespert said.
His dad died 14 years ago, and now, Kuespert remembers him in his family’s showcase.
“Just past the middle, there’s a single green candy cane,” he said.
Abby Kuespert said the family wanted to remember her grandfather by putting something in the yard that’s simple.
“It could be overlooked,” she said. “But it’s special to us.”
A hidden message in the midst of a light show, Pam Kuespert said, touches so many people.
“We get cards that say thank you,” she said. “Some of them are great and then other ones just make you cry.”
Kuespert said one year the family got a letter from a woman who made coming to their light show a Christmas tradition with her late husband.
“This past year he passed away,” she said. “’So I really had to get myself to come see it but it was very healing cause it made me think of being here with him.’”
Kuespert said it’s great to receive these letters because “you never realize how much it touches the community.”
See below for directions to the Kuespert’s Lights on Bell Road:
ABC 57 Photographer Jason Dorrier contributed to this report.