Steele-ing the show with Christmas lights

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FORESTBURG — There's no brighter home in Forestburg than the Steele's.

Decked out in Christmas-themed lights, candy canes, deer, signs, snowmen and much more, the family of five's dazzling decor has become a tradition they won't soon be stopping.

"What started out with a few strands has now morphed into more than 30,000 Christmas lights, music going to it and a family tradition," David Steele said. "And like my grandpa always said, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. That certainly applies to our Christmas light display."

The Steele family consists of David, his wife Tracey and their three sons, 14-year-old Brighten, 12-year-old Carter and 6-year-old Hayden. The family has lived in their Forestburg home for 10 years, and 2017 marks the seventh year of a light display.

While there are approximately 32,000 traditional Christmas lights, Steele said there are more than 115,000 points of lights, which includes projectors with multiple beams of lights. That tops last year's 107,000 lights.

Steele estimates he adds between 2,500 and 3,000 new lights each year, along with other new additions. For 2017, Steele added 10 mini trees, which he said are essentially smaller trees entirely made out of lights. But there are also a few new snowmen and three more deer on display.

And this epic artistic display doesn't come quickly. The Steeles, particularly David and Carter, have been working for the past five weekends, finishing in time for Thanksgiving. Steele said the family works Saturday and Sunday of each weekend from sun up to sundown.

"It's definitely a family effort. Everybody prepares lights, everybody strands lights, so it's a family display," he said.

And that's just setting up. Planning for the project begins months in advance, as Steele often finds himself building displays in July.

For 2017, there's another special addition that Steele won't soon forget. For the first time, Carter took the time to create a lit-up "Merry Christmas" sign by himself. But after finishing the masterpiece, the family noticed a missing letter — the "H" in Christmas.

But the family doesn't mind at all and they proudly display the sign.

"I don't even know if people notice because there's so many lights. It's one of those things I'll never fix because it was the first sign he made. He did it and it'll just be a Merry Christmas sign without the 'H.' "

Sharing the holiday spirit

Steele said their home is the only one in the small town of Forestburg to have a light display of this magnitude — and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I'll have people drive by and say, 'Geez, I haven't seen a display this big even in Sioux Falls.' So that's kind of cool to have a display that big in small town," he said.

From lighted pathways on the lawn to lights outlining the doors, windows and roof, the Steele home is a sight to see. And to top it off, Steele has it all to the tune of Christmas music. Viewers can tune into 90.5 FM while checking out the display, adding to the overall experience.

And that's what Steele hopes for, that when people stop by for a quick view of his home, that they have a good time.

"Obviously, we love the lights, we love the Christmas season and it's really big in our house," Steele said. "But if people drive by and see the lights and it makes them feel good and gives them a little Christmas spirit, that just makes it all worth our time and efforts."