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Boardman teen spreads cheer with brilliant light display

December 30, 2019
Ashley Fox , The Town Crier

Some things are visible from space, such as The Great Wall of China and White Sands in New Mexico. Astronauts may be able to add one more to the list: Jacob Latessa Quade's light display.

Jacob, 14, has 98 holiday inflatables and at least 50,000 bulbs lighting up a section of South Avenue near Maple Avenue.

"We started out with icicle lights and it turned into this," he said, chuckling. "When I was like 10 years old, I started doing the outside and I got better every year."

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Starting at 3, Jacob would decorate toy houses with wreaths and light sets. His mother, Lisa, said he did it all the time.

"I didn't think back then it would get this big," she said.

Jacob started putting out the outdoor Christmas decorations Nov. 1, working long days.

"It took six weeks, 10-hour days," he said, which Lisa added can be done because he is home-schooled.

Choosing to give the community something to look forward to, Jacob also has fun setting up everything, but not putting away everything. "That's the worst," he said.

Last year, it took about three days to take down everything and put it away.

Each year, Jacob puts the displays in different places, but he puts time into each piece's placement.

"That's the hardest part, trying to figure out where all the stuff is going to go," he said.

Like most things, the display comes with a cost. Lisa and John Quade's electric bill swells to about $150 per month, and would be higher if it weren't for LED lights.

"The other lights we used to have...were expensive. It took us about four years to change to all LED," she said.

The display has become a community event in some ways, with people dropping off inflatables in person and anonymously.

Other times, people stopping to marvel will leave some cash in a little box labeled "donations" to help offset the cost.

Jacob also scours the internet throughout the year, often looking for any prop he finds interesting.

Decorating isn't limited to the exterior of the home.

Inside the house, the teen has Christmas trees and villages set up, intricately displayed with each scene telling a little story.

About three years ago, Jacob said he noticed people started driving by, looking at the lights.

The family doesn't mind, Lisa said, except sometimes people tend to get out of their cars and walk the property.

"We don't want them doing that because there's so much wire," Jacob said.

Sometimes, the family will receive feedback if the display isn't lit, which Jacob said happens if it is too rainy or windy.

To get the extravaganza lit, Jacob said he starts in the garage, where the plugs rival Clark Griswold of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," the teen's favorite movie and light inspiration.

"There were times our plugs sparked and exploded," he said, but the cords and outlets have since been updated.

Just over a week ago, Jacob received the ultimate compliment, he said.

Chevy Chase, who played Clark Griswold, shared a photo of the display after Jacob tagged it on Instagram.

His light displays don't stop at Christmas. Unable to choose between the two, Jacob said he also enjoys Halloween, including decorating for it.

He decorates every holiday he can, with Christmas being the biggest display.

This year, Jacob has grown his artwork with his neighbor's blessing.

"I went up and asked if we could put a Christmas tree up," and from there, Jacob was given pretty much free rein to decorate his neighbor's property.

He's hoping to get a chance to appear on Great Light Fight, a show that travels the United States looking for the best holiday display.

He also has his eye on the prize of $50,000.

"They called us this year. ... They said it looks nice but they need an overhead view," he said. They are trying to find a drone to submit a photo to the competition.

After he graduates, Jacob said he would like to look into acting, or maybe into being an electrician.

For now, he'll continue growing his holiday light display.



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