FORT LEE, New Jersey (WCBS) — Two teens used their downtime during the pandemic to bring more light into their neighborhoods.
Their holiday light displays are sparking joy and the spirit of giving back.
Every night at 5:30 p.m., 418 Center Street is the center of attention in Fort Lee.
“Because of the pandemic, we needed to brighten up people’s spirits a little bit,” 16-year-old Cameron Baek said.
Cameron spent more than 200 hours while home during the pandemic programming 6,000 LEDs to run off of seven computers.
“This is where you can choose between 256 million different color combinations,” he explained.
He’s self-taught, and his seven-song playlist includes a dedication to the men and women in blue with a thank you to the Fort Lee Police Department.
Spectators can drop off monetary donations to the borough’s volunteer fire department in a box out front.
“I’ve seen the amount of work they do serving the community,” Cameron said.
It turns out, the lights captivated someone at Borough Hall so much, Cameron was asked to design those, too.
Coincidentally, just 30 miles north, at 6 Gerlach Drive in New City, New York, another teen channeled his time during the lockdown into building a display three times as large as his display last year. Now, he uses 10,000 lights and 30 holiday character inflatables.
“It just brightens everyone’s day. How can you not look at this and just love it?” 16-year-old Bobby Giorgio said. “I love doing this year-round. I’m programming all the time.”
Among the new additions this year at the Giorgio household are a tree with 7,000 lights and a massive inflatable snowman.
“Did you need to ask your mom for permission to run up the electric bill this much?” CBS2’s Lisa Rozner asked.
“Kind of. I kind of just did it on my own, and she just has to see at the end of the month,” Bobby said.
“He’s put so many hours into this, and how can I say no? As far as the electric bill, whatever. I’m on the budget plan, so,” mom Jill Giorgio said.
The joy from seeing repeat visitors every night, the family says, is worth it.
“Most nights, there’s people lining up outside. It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable,” father Chris Giorgio said. “I’m so proud of him.”
The show runs through Dec. 31, and until then, visitors can drop off food donations. The family has a bin out front collecting canned goods for the nonprofit People to People of Rockland County. For more information, visit peopletopeopleinc.org.
Both Cameron and Bobby have their displays running every night until New Year’s.
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