SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah (ABC4) — Driving around to look at lights is a beloved Christmas tradition for Mitch and Shenan Faas and their four children.
“When they were young, we would drive around looking at Christmas lights… we were just mesmerized when we saw some of those shows like ours,” says Mitch Faas. “We would sit in front of those houses for way longer than most other cars just because we fell in love with it.”
The couple says that is what inspired them to create their own Hamilton-themed Christmas lights display, which has not only captured national attention, but the attention of the Broadway show’s playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The couple first got wind that Miranda might have seen their lights display when Miranda’s father commented on their display on Twitter.
Mitch and Shenan, who say they love Hamilton and have seen the show on Broadway, hoped that it would only be a matter of time before Miranda himself saw it. An hour later, their wish came true when Mitch received a Venmo notification on his phone from the playwright, saying “Incredible display. Happy Holidays! Siempre, LMM.”
Miranda donated $1,000 to the United Way of Utah County Sub for Santa program through the family’s Venmo.
“We were completely humbled and just amazed that he did that,” Shenan says.
According to the couple, the official Hamilton page shared the couple’s now-viral video and tagged them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The Faas’, who have done the display for the past three years, say they have put hundreds if not thousands of hours throughout the year into making the display what it is today. And it has taken time to learn the skills that have made it a reality.
According to Mitch Faas, when the couple first decided to do the display, they had no idea how they would do it, but made the choice to learn how.
“We’re just stubborn people, so a lot of Youtube,” he says. “We joke that we fake it very well. We’re not techy. A lot of people go, ‘Oh an engineer lives there or a lighting technician,’ Nope, not at all.”
The couple joked that they had more time to spend on the time-consuming display this year because of being quarantined due to COVID-19.
According to the Faas’ the light display is actually a show, which in addition to Hamilton music, features Christmas songs and songs from movies like Frozen, Star Wars, and Trolls. The full show is 36 minutes long from start to finish and can be found on Youtube.
Mitch Faas says that it’s usually half an hour wait to see the show due to the large volume of visitors. He said the visitors would sometimes try to offer him money for the show.
“I always tell them no,” he says. “We’re not trying to make money out of this. It’s just our way of giving back and bringing joy.”
The Faas family said they encourage people to come see their light show. However, they ask that viewers avoid blocking their neighbors’ driveways or any roads, keep music to a respectful level, turn off headlights when they reach a viewing location, and move all the way up to avoid any gaps in the line.
Though the Faas’ receive many in-person visitors, their video has also since spread across the world. Mitch says the family has gotten videos of kids in other countries dancing to their video and singing Hamilton songs.
It’s been crazy to see how many people are enjoying the light show, Mitch says. “We’re in the hobby of happiness.”
“That is why we do this,” Shenan says. “We want to be able to be a tradition for families and be a place to go where they don’t have to spend money but they can make memories together.”