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‘ELFS’ at play

Engineering students lend technical skills to Merry and Bright

By Janet Harron

Elves take many forms at this time of year.

There’s that nosy Elf on the Shelf who specializes in surveying and reporting back to the North Pole. And don’t forget the elves at the mall who keep children entertained while they are waiting not-so-patiently to see Santa.

From left are Benjamin Sansome, Mark Power, Zachary O’Neill and Eric Arnold.
Photo: Submitted

Memorial University also has a team of “elves” who have been instrumental in this year’s hugely successful Merry and Bright Festival.

The Engineering Light Festival Students (ELFS) are Eric Arnold, Benjamin Sansome, Mark Power and Zachary O’Neill. Earlier this year the group programmed customized controllers that, combined with special LED lights and classic holiday music, created a true spectacle in a prominent space in the Botanical Gardens now affectionately known as the Rock Garden.

The set-up was controlled by a central controller box that sent signals out over multiple channels, telling the lights what to do. A graphic preview of the garden was generated to help the students manually sequence the lights to synchronize with the song. The multiple sequences were then programmed to a memory card and inserted into the light controller.

“The garden is very thankful for the ELFS and Dr. Stephen Czarnuch, the students’ faculty advisor, for the enthusiasm, commitment and creativity they brought to this project,” said garden director Kim Shipp. “Sharing their abilities and skills in this manner truly reflect the spirit of the season.”

The redesigned Rock Garden required new lights and equipment, which was generously provided for by a gold level sponsorship from the Friends of the Garden, a volunteer group of supporters that is fundamental to the success of the Merry and Bright Festival and other Botanical Garden initiatives.

The fourth installment of St. John’s newest holiday tradition ended on Dec. 22, 2019, but the ELFS are already toying with some potential ideas for 2020’s festival.

“The fun we had making this current show has inspired us to set the bar high for next year,” said group spokesperson Benjamin Sansome.


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