As far as Griswoldian Christmas displays go, festooning your home with about 5 million sparkling light strings, LEDs that “dance” to Mariah Carey and a small army of semi-terrifying vintage blow molds is sooo 2014.
This year, it would appear that quick, cheap and easy rule when it comes to festively gussying up the exterior of your home in a manner that halts traffic and renders your roofline visible from outer space. And people — specifically people who qualify as “very lazy, very effusive holiday enthusiasts” — would appear to be going absolutely wild for the Star Shower Laser Light system.
An As Seen on TV product that’s also available — or most likely completely sold out — at your local big box store for $39.99, Star Shower is a godsend for those who want their homes to appear festive but don’t want necessarily have the time, energy or money to go the old-fashioned string lights route.
Just remove from box, plug into a standard outlet and voila … the Star Shower projects thousands of “breathtaking holographic stars” onto your abode. It’s the perfect holiday decorating item for anyone who’s ever wanted the façade of his house to appear like it has come down with a wicked case of the psychedelic chickenpox. Or maybe a firefly infestation of preternatural proportions.
“When I have a party, I spice it up with Star Shower! I love them and my guests can’t keep their eyes off them,” exclaims one satisfied customer in a commercial.
Despite its popularity among homeowners, Star Shower has managed to garner a wary reaction from the aviation community. Why? If Star Shower is inadvertently pointed upwards and not on a targeted object on the ground, the holly-jolly laser beams have the potential to temporarily blind passing pilots.
Last month, an errantly positioned Star Shower display prompted the pilot of a C130 Coast Guard plane traveling over Sacramento to alert the police. The offending home was identified (just look for the one covered in thousands of green and red dots) and the homeowner, who was very much not acting in a malicious criminal manner, was asked to use more caution when pointing holiday laser beams.
Sergeant Morrie Zager, a helicopter pilot with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, explains to NBC Los Angeles what it’s like to encounter laser beams directed straight into the sky:
You experience what's called a flash blindness. Everything goes away except green. The worst part about it is the pain. It can cause anything from a mild distraction to a complete incapacitation of the pilot resulting in the aircraft crashing.
Zager says of Star Shower: “I would be very wary of having that item pointed into the sky because it could conceivably have the same negative affects to pilots as one of the single pen light lasers.”
More recently, the pilot of an American Airlines flight approaching Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at an altitude of 15,000 feet was distracted by laser lights originating from an improperly Star Shower-bedecked home.
Given the immense popularity of Star Shower, the FAA felt obliged to release a statement:
Our concerns about lasers — regardless of the source — is that they not be aimed at aircraft where the beams can threaten the safety of a flight by distracting or blinding pilots. Consumers who buy these new light displays should take precautions to make sure that the lights are hitting their houses and not shining off into the sky. In situations such as this, we would start by asking the person to either adjust them or turn them off.
TeleBrands, the company behind Star Shower and other infomerical classics such as Ped Eggs and Dump Meals, is quick to point out that the beams emitted from the project are far less powerful that the beams of standard laser pointers (the kind intentionally used to disrupt air traffic) and the product itself is compliant with FDA regulations governing lasers and Consumer Product Safety standards. Furthermore, each system comes with an instruction book explicating stating that the projector should be pointed only at homes, never directly into the sky, and that “lasers should not be projected at or within the flight path of an aircraft within 10 nautical miles of an airport.”
The moral of the story? Install and point those holiday laser cannons with utmost caution, folks.
In addition to posing serious problems with passing aircraft if not used correctly, Star Shower also has the dubious distinction of being one of this season’s most pilfered holiday accessories. From Connecticut to Colorado, reports of Star Shower theft are pouring into local police departments.
“Now we're stuck hanging Christmas lights," says one crestfallen homeowner after her Star Shower system was swiped from her front yard during the middle of the night. "I think the Grinch came and stole our Christmas is what I think."
Via [NBC4] via [CityLab], [Los Angeles Times]