Family calls attention to organ donation
PRESCOTT – If you’re looking for a local holiday light display to add to your family’s viewing traditions, check out 1443 Glenridge Drive in Prescott. It is truly a sight to behold, but has a special twist – the lights are timed to music.
Chris and Jane Wandmacher and their two children, ages 4 and 7, are responsible for the spirited display. Vehicles can tune their radios to 88.3 FM as they watch the lights blink, fade, twinkle and chase in time to the music. The family moved to Prescott in 2012; Prescott Firefighter Chris Wandmacher is origi-Chris nally from Ellsworth, while
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and Jane Wandmacher, who reside at 1443 Glenridge Drive in Prescott, timed their light display to music, which visitors can hear by tuning in to 88.3 FM. Photo courtesy of Jane Wandmacher LIGHTS
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Jane Wandmacher grew up in St. Cloud.
Jane Wandmacher inherited the light display components, including controllers, from her dad and stepmom, who won contests in their home city of St. Cloud for their holiday displays. Alas, her parents got a taste of Florida’s warmer weather and opted to bequeath the lights to their daughter on their way to sun and sand. Good news for Pierce County residents indeed.
The first two years, the family used a blue and white snowflake theme. Inflatables blew up to the song “Baby Shark,” which as you can imagine, was a big hit with children. This year, they’ve upgraded to commercial lights, which allows for a bolder, brighter light show. Look for trees, candy canes and a red and white theme.
Last year, they had a lot of issues with the strings of lights, Chris Wandmacher said.
“I looked like Clark Griswold out there at 10 at night messing with the plugs,” he laughed.
They had to make a decision: Motivate themselves to keep the display going or hang it up. The thought of disappointing families prompted them to keep at it; hence the decision to invest in commercial lights. With the heavier-duty lights, whole strings don’t go out at once. They purchased more than 1,800 feet of lights, which roughly equates to 1,800 lights.
“Our main goal is to bring happiness and the Christmas spirit to families,” Chris Wandmacher said.
“We try to keep it lively, but still have a touch of the traditional,” Jane Wandmacher added. “We want to create an experience where families can come and enjoy it.”
Once their camper is put to bed for the winter in October, the entire family spends their weekends prior to deer camp readying the light display for the holidays. They like to have everything in place before temperatures dip and snow flies. They even have a map on paper detailing where everything goes and is plugged in.
Jane Wandmacher explained that the controllers are the “main brain” for the display. A “channel” is a unit of lights that can be controlled individually. For example, a single shrub may be a channel if one set of lights covers it. All the lights in a channel work as a single unit. The Wandmachers’ display currently has 80 “channels.”
She codes songs into a laptop using a software program, which breaks the song she syncs to the lights into very short segments. This allows her to program each channel of lights to turn on, off, fade, twinkle, blink, etc.
The Wandmachers’ children get into the spirit of things by passing out candy canes to vehicles. They also help their parents set up the display.
“They love when cars show up and it’s so sweet the messages that we get,” Jane Wandmacher said. “People tell us they look forward to coming every year.”
While some light displays are used to help raise money for charitable organizations or collect food for food pantries, the Wandmachers’ display is dedicated to a different cause: Organ donation.
“Our family has been blessed through the gift of organ donation multiple times,” Chris Wandmacher said. “You never know when a neighbor might need an organ.”
Jane Wandmacher recounted how last year, a six-month liver transplant survivor reached out to them to express her gratitude for the display and its awareness arm. She also encourages people to sign up for organ donation.
“Our hearts are so thankful,” she said. “It’s truly driven home to us when others benefit from the gift of organ donation.”
People can view the display 4:45-10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 4:45-11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tune your radio to 88.3 FM as the lights shimmer and dance before your eyes.
To learn more about organ donation, go to donatelifewisconsin. org or organdonor.gov
Chris and Jane Wandmacher draw visitors to their holiday light display at 1443 Glenridge Drive in Prescott by timing the lights to music. The couple, who has lived in Prescott since 2021, inherited the light display from Jane's parents and have since added to it, including heavier-duty commercial lights. Photos courtesy of Jane Wandmacher