He may not be Santa Claus, but the work he puts in year-round for the holiday season brings cheer and care to those near and far.
For Michael Justak of Plymouth the work he does is formidable feast for the eyes, ears and holiday spirit. His second annual musical and lights display at his home combine his own radio station 97.9 that provides the music perfectly timed with the lights positioned around his front yard.
Using 20,000 lights on several trees, including a mega-tree 11 feet tall, and a Bilagion-esque light structure, Justak programmed PD Shimmers, a 48-minute musical light show that runs Dec. 8-26 for all to see and hear.
Though Justak did a musical light show last year because he is using different trees and more controlled channels for the musical-light connections.
"Last year I had 16 controlled channels and have 80 now," Justak said. "Channels are like extension cords that turn things on and off during the show."
Adding the mega tree, which is a few feet shorter than normal "mega trees" used in musical home light displays, was a challenging element this year.
"That's what I could work on with the heighth of my ladder and health limitations," Justak said.
Justak doesn't do all this for fun, but for the self-proclaimed computer geek the work is fun and challenging. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2003 at the age 47. The show is called PD Shimmers because of the term "shimmers," which refers to the tremors those with Parkinson's often get from the disease.
With his medication, Justak can work on certain parts of the project at certain times of the day when his hands and body let him.
"What took the longest was the specialized plugs that are pins only as thick as nails and you must take a single strand of wire and attach it to the pin and crimp it," Justak said. "With Parkinson's my fingers aren't very nimble and I'm no electrician."
Justak works as a Director of Asset Management for Simply Self Storage, which is based out of Orlando, Fla. The entire process for the home musical light display has been a self-taught test of trial and error.
"Two years ago I was online and searched the term 'wild lights' and found a house in Utah done by a man named Richard Holdman," Justak said. "He had done a one-minute version of 'Amazing Grace.' He's my gold standard."
Though Justak protests he's no where near as good as Holdman, his neighbors and others would say he's pretty darn close.
"It's very exciting to see how it comes together," said his neighbor Heing Liou. "We like to turn on the radio with the kids at home and look across the street."
This year's display kicked off Dec. 8 with Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik who pushed the button on Justak's phone to start the show. Her daughter got the chance to play Wii guitar in a fun and innovative way to control the musical light display that also includes a Bellagio-type light fixture with dancing water effect, five mini trees and two wing trees.
Justak said he has worked about 10 hours a week since February on his show. It averaged out to about eight to 10 hours of work per minute of music for computer programming the show.
But why do all this? For Justak it comes down to bringing awareness and raising funds for his 501 3c nonprofit organization Partnership for Parkinsons Inc., which he started in 2007.
"In 2006, I hit a crossroads in my career and I was moved to start the nonprofit," he said. "The light show was a way for me to get off my butt and do something that grabbed people's attention."
Meanwhile, Justak's efforts with his nonprofit has helped fund research through the Fox Foudnation, work with the Struther's Parkinsons Center and more. He wants to find ways to help create webinars and fund more testing.
"I've provided 50 books and videos for Parkinson's patients called 'Delay the Disease' that teach exercises that delay the onset of the disease," Justak said. "I got a Wii game for a single mom in Minneapolis with Parkinson's as a way to help her. I'm really into finding ways in movement to help those with Parkinsons."
Also, part of his musical light show is a salute to American military and veterans, which is part of the video aspect of the show. With neighbors who are actively serving overseas, the salute was a more personal addition for his neighborhood.
Justak's wife Karen said the work with his nonprofit efforts and light show is a passion, which first started in their backyard. She's happy to see how it has evolved and shares Justak's enthuasiasm for creating a unique way to bring awareness about Parkinson's disease.
The show runs 7-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
While viewing the light show one can donate to PFP by texting the word "partner" to 48501 or you can visit http://www.pdshimmers.com to make a donation any time.