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Army veteran designs light show for first responders

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — An Army veteran living with PTSD is saying thank you to the first responders on the front lines of COVID-19 with 3,000 repurposed Christmas lights, moving to a soundtrack made just for them.

It’s like Christmas in May but with an all-new song list. Instead of lyrics singing the praises of a winter wonderland, it’s about pumping up first responders with tracks like “God Bless America,” “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac and “Eye of the Tiger,” thanks to the work of Donald Miclette.

“People are fighting for their lives, they’re trying to find ways to keep things going,” Miclette said.

It’s the perfect activity for the pandemic. You don’t even have to get out of your vehicle. Just pull up, tune into the right station and you can hear Miclette’s homemade thank-you note, all 35 minutes of it.

Miclette is a veteran of the Gulf War who still battles post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues from his time overseas.

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Last fall, he discovered designing Christmas light displays was a great therapy. When his wife, Darla, suggested doing something similar for those on the front lines of the pandemic, he couldn’t say no.

“Being a veteran, I know what it’s like when people are on the front line and they don’t get no respect,” Miclette said. “So I figured we can do something, whatever I can do to help out.”

This display has 3,000 high-tech lights, all new from his Christmas display, along with new software which makes it a little easier to program. Still, each song takes 20 hours or more of time to program, mouse click after mouse click.

It’s all computerized, but that doesn’t make it always easy, even with the help of his son Dusty, a 14-year-old freshman in high school.

“You put one number in the wrong way, and you lose it,” Miclette said with a laugh.

So stop by and enjoy Miclette’s thank you from 9-11 p.m., an appropriate time for those who respond to 911 calls. It will remain on from Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, which also seems appropriate considering all the MDs he’s trying to honor.

With lights and music meant to be viewed from the comfort of your own car, the show is tailor-made for social distancing.

“Exactly, so you don’t have to worry about meeting people on the sidewalk, catching coronavirus,” Miclette said.

While Christmas may be seven months away and yes, the lights are bright, his neighbors have stopped by to tell him not to turn off this message, appreciating all his countless hours, almost like those on the front lines.

For Miclette, it’s all worth it if someone gets his message, to “not stop,” and to have the “eye of the tiger” during a difficult time.

“Just a little satisfaction and knowing that someone cares about them,” Miclette said.

Miclette lives at 943 Redwood Drive in Franklin. That’s in the Heritage at Brookhaven subdivision, about 20 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis, near the Legends Golf Club.

From Hurricane Road, turn onto Brookshire Drive. When you come to the roundabout, turn onto Cedarmill Drive and as the road curves, it turns into Redwood Drive.

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