We’re all for channeling your inner Clark Griswold and putting together a Christmas lights display that is worthy of an appearance on The Great Christmas Light Fight. But if you take too far? There may not be a lot of money leftover for Christmas gifts or Christmas dinner.

It’s easy to sit back and laugh at infomercials that make simple taste chopping veggies, frying an egg or washing your clothes seem like a colossal project. Laugh all you want, but there was one that hit the airwaves in 2015 that proved to hit close to home. 

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The three-minute commercial introduced America to the newest innovation in Christmas light technology. It was meant to cut down on the hours we spent untangling strands, searching for broken bulbs and eventually hanging Christmas lights on your gutters. In fact, if you purchased this groundbreaking technology you wouldn’t even have to step on a ladder. With a touch of a button, your house would look impressively festive thanks to a device you stuck in your flowerbed or lawn. That device? The “Star Shower Laser Light.” 

The first holiday season that they were on the market, Star Showers were so popular that they were harder to find than a Tickle Me Elmo in 1996. They were a hit with homeowners, but there was one government agency that hated them and still does today. That agency? The Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA explains that when lasers are pointed at the sky, they can distract or temporarily blind pilots which puts the safety of everyone on an aircraft at risk. 

How Guilty Are Idaho and California During the Holiday Season?

The FAA actually logs and makes reports of “laser events” available to the public via an online database and you can see how much the number of laser events grew from 2014 to 2015. In 2014, Idaho only reported seven laser events. Two were in Boise. One was in Mountain Home. Only one of those reports happened during the holiday season. 

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In 2015, the year the Star Shower was introduced, Idaho had 28 laser incidents: 23 in Boise, three in Nampa and one in Mountain Home. 46% of the laser hits were reported during the holiday season. 

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Over in California, there were 888 laser hits reported in 2014. That number exploded to 1559 the following year. About 12% of the strikes happened between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. 

Laser Events Carry Scary Penalties

We don’t think that homeowners using a laser show are purposely being malicious and putting pilots in danger. Those who set their laser shows in a position where some of the beams shoot at the sky instead of the home or shrubbery probably did so by accident. 

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That’s why the FAA will give you a free pass the first time they contact you if your display is negatively affecting pilots. According to their website, they’ll nicely ask you to adjust the lasers or turn them off. But ignoring those warnings is a bad idea. If you ignore the warning, they can come after you with a fine of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple incidents. You could also face criminal penalties from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. 

If you’re thinking “yeah, but do they actually enforce this?” They do. The FAA issued $120,000 in laser-related fines last year. They didn’t provide an updated number from 2022.

KEEP READING: 7 Dazzling Idaho Public Christmas Lights Displays You Can't Miss In 2023

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Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

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