Music teacher’s ‘Star Wars’ Christmas light show dazzles community, Internet

Michael Walsh
Tom BetGeorge, of Newark, Calif., celebrates Christmas with his girlfriend Teri.

Now witness the power of this fully operational light show!

Tom BetGeorge, a music teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, is catching national attention for his spellbinding Christmas light tribute to “Star Wars” this holiday season.

“Honestly, it’s a little surreal. It’s humbling,” he said in an interview with Yahoo News. “I anticipated that a lot of people [would] like ‘Star Wars,’ but I didn’t expect it to blow up like that.”

The roughly 100,000 choreographed lights accompany some of composer John Williams’s most recognizable themes from the blockbuster space opera, including “The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme),” “Binary Sunset” and “Cantina Band.”

BetGeorge, a music instructor at the Conservatory of Vocal and Instrumental Arts in Oakland and Centerville Presbyterian Church in Fremont, particularly likes “Duel of the Fates.”

“I teach chorus, and the choral parts of the song are just so epic-sounding,” he said.

BetGeorge says he probably spent about 1,000 hours working on the light show in total, but most of that time was spent building the decorations from scratch, using wood, metal, acrylic and corrugated plastic.

These props include singing faces, candy canes, a drum kit, a 17-foot long guitar and a 19-foot long piano. The lights on the roof are store-bought.

After everything was built, it took about a month to set up the Yuletide display, which is connected by about two miles of cable and 5,000 wires.

If you look closely, you will notice that the correct musical notes illuminate throughout.

“To make the timing match, I have to do tons of trial and error,” he said.

He also put together a show for "Let It Go," the hit song from last year's phenomenally successful animated Disney film "Frozen."

 BetGeorge says that his neighbors have been highly supportive and that he has taken precautions to make sure the show does not become an annoyance for them. The lights do not shine on other houses, and he makes sure spectators do not block any driveways or disrupt traffic.

It can get expensive taking children on vacations to places like Disneyland, so BetGeorge wanted to give the families in his community something free to do for Christmas.

If anyone wants to leave a tip, he is raising money on site for Centerville Free Dining, a program at his church that provides free meals for the homeless and poor twice a week. They also offer counseling services, as needed.

“I’m a Christian. The Bible references taking care of the poor more than anything else,” BetGeorge said. “I don’t think that’s an analogy. I think that’s literal."

You can see the light show at the corner of Lafayette Avenue and Ruschin Drive in Newark most nights from 6-10 p.m., barring rain.