Olathe & Southwest Joco

Dorr family’s light tradition is a gift to the community, first in Prairie Village, now Olathe

The Mayor’s Holiday Light Display, located at 1205 E. Kansas City Road in Olathe, features thousands of lighting combinations.
The Mayor’s Holiday Light Display, located at 1205 E. Kansas City Road in Olathe, features thousands of lighting combinations. Special to the Star

Some Christmas light displays are static. Some feature hundreds of blinking lights.

Then there is Tim Dorr’s Christmas light display in Olathe, which features 41,000 combinations of Christmas lights programmed to flash to music of the holiday season.

“We’re all kids when it comes to Christmas lights,” said Dorr. “It’s something people of all ages enjoy.”

The display, which features 16 million different color combinations throughout a 15-minute show, was moved from Prairie Village to Stagecoach Park in Olathe this year.

Visitors can park, watch the show and listen to the music through their car radios nightly through New Year’s Eve at the park adjacent to the Olathe Community Center at Kansas City Road and Ridgeview Road. Hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Although the display is free, donations are requested with proceeds benefiting the Olathe Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund. The fund goal is to generate $140,000 this year for programs that help local children and families.

Dorr, who has had a life-long love of Christmas lights, first erected the display nine years ago in the front yard of his Prairie Village on Fontana Street. After a neighbor voiced concerns about traffic generated by the display, it was moved to the grounds of the Prairie Village pool in 2010.

Dorr moved to Olathe last year and decided to relocate the display to Olathe this holiday season.

“We kept the display in Prairie Village last year, but there was a storm and the display experienced some wind damage,” he said. “We decided it would be easier to maintain it closer to home.”

Michael Meadors, Olathe parks and recreation director, said the city met with the Dorrs this year regarding moving the display to Olathe. “They had a strong desire to continue the family’s tradition of a community light display,” he said. “We agreed to store the display and decided on Stagecoach Park as the display location.”

Meadors said the park is near the geographical center of Olathe and provides the necessary infrastructure to support the display. “The parking lot is set up so people can access the site and move in and out easily,” he said. Attendance has been good, he added. “There are usually 10 to 12 cars there nonstop in the evenings.”

Erin Vader, Olathe communications and public engagement manager, said, “Tim has been incredibly generous in setting up this display and sharing it with others. He has great community spirit.”

Dorr said he was inspired to create the display after seeing a video of man in Ohio who had a similar light display. “The first time I saw it I didn’t think it was real,” he said. “Then I found out computer programs could be used to create light displays.”

Dorr started with a 16-channel system and progressed to the current system, which has more than 1,000 channels that can control multiple light strings.

Dorr’s family has been involved in developing the project. His grandchildren provide the voices of animated elves in the show.

Dorr said he enjoys seeing the reaction people when viewing his display.

“One night we were visiting the display and a carload of people pulled up,” he said. “They had their car windows rolled down while they were watching it. They clapped and cheered after each song. They were really enjoying it. Large busloads of people even come to see the show. It’s really fun.”