DEMAREST, N.J. — A Demarest teen is keeping up with a tradition he started in 2010 to lift his family’s spirits following his mother’s death.
Daniel Eisenberg, a sophomore at NV/Demarest, has sequenced music to go with the blinking and twinkling 110,000 lights adorning his Evergreen Place home.
The 16-year-old is being sponsored by the American Heart Association and is collecting money in honor of his late mother, Lena — who died of a sudden heart attack — to donate to the organization.
“It’s always just been a couple of lights,” Daniel told Daily Voice. “But it means so much to us.”
Decorating the house around the holidays was something the Eisenberg Family did together. Daniel’s mom would take the inside, and he and his father would take the outside.
The decorations were always modest until 2013, when Daniel found a program at Home Depot that would program lights to music.
“I loved it,” the teen said. “But I got so many lights that I burned it out.”
Daniel, then only 14, thought he knew the perfect person to help: Ralph DeWeil of Waldwick.
The Eisenbergs had long driven past his Manhattan Avenue home which he’s been decking out for years. DeWeil took Daniel under his wing and taught him how to use higher quality equipment.
“He’s a mentor,” Daniel said of DeWeil. “This display isn’t just from November to January, it’s something that I work on for more than half the year.”
Every minute of music takes the teen 5 to 10 hours to program. A 3-minute song can take up to 30 hours, because he needs to tell every strand of lights exactly how to light up.
Many people with displays like Daniel’s say programming is the “worst part,” he said. For Daniel, programming is the best part.
This year’s display was funded in part by donations from the community.
“Two years ago, a family gave us a $100 donation,” Daniel told Daily Voice. “So then next year, we put a donation box outside and raised $6,000.”
The Eisenbergs donated half of the proceeds to the American Heart Association in memory of Lena, and used the other half for this year’s display.
“I think that my mom would be amazed and be proud that I could accomplish something so amazing,” Eisenberg said. “Something that brings so many people together.”
Swing by Evergreen Place in Demarest to see Eisenberg's display — you can't miss it.