Lighting up for Toys for Tots

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
For most people decorating their house for Christmas involves a couple strings of lights and some holiday figures on the lawn. But for 1st Lt. Joshua Palochak, 41st Electronic Combat Squadron electronic warfare officer, the tradition gets kicked up a notch or two.

Lieutenant Palochak and his family deck out their house and lawn in approximately 40,000 small incandescent lights in an array of colors.

"I started the light show last year because it was my son's first Christmas and I wanted to start a tradition that would remain fun and exciting in the years to come," Palochak said.

The "tradition" is an intricate light show set to his own FM radio station that people drive from miles around to see. The lights are set up and timed through a computer software system that allows Lieutenant Palochak to control the syncopation of the lights.

"The software is available to anyone, but it takes a lot of time and work to put something like this together," Palochak said. "I can log as many as 30 hours arranging the light sequencing for one song."

There is no charge to watch the show.

"The only thing we ask is that people pull to the curb to watch the show, dim their lights and keep their stereo volume at a comfortable level," Palochak said.

This is the second year Lieutenant Palochak has done the light show. This year's show is set to Christmas music of the rock genre. Some of the features displayed are arches over the driveway, candy cane striping on the ground and a pair of handmade Air Force wings topping the Christmas tree on the roof.

"Once I started getting into creating the light show, it just became this huge hobby of mine," Palochak said. "Even while I was putting up the lights for this year, I'm already thinking of next year and how I'm going to make it bigger and better."

Lieutenant Palochak doesn't put in his time and effort purely for entertainment purposes. Outside of his house is a Toys for Tots box where visitors can drop off new, unwrapped donations after they've watched the lightshow.

"I thought why not use this tradition that we've started to help others," Palochak said. "I drive past a main Toys for Tots hub on my way to work every day. So it's convenient and it's for a good cause."

Last year Lieutenant Palochak collected about 100 toys for the organizations. He hopes to collect even more this year.

"Toys for Tots in Tucson was short about 5,000 toys last year," Palochak said. "We've done a lot more advertising this year so I hope we'll collect more toys."

The light show can be seen at 8806 E. Chimney Spring Dr. Sunday through Thursday from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., and Friday through Saturday 6:30 p.m. through 10 p.m. It began Nov. 24 and will continue to run until Dec. 31.