GIVEAWAY: Win a Cuisinart Triple Forged 15-Piece Knife Block Set in white! →

When I was a child, I thought that my family was the only one to enjoy driving around our surrounding neighborhoods, looking at all the Christmas lights. It wasn’t until I was much older that I figured out we’re not unique. A lot of people enjoy hopping in the car and driving around to look at lights. While most of us usually stick to our locality, there are others that like to go a little further afield in search of cool displays.

Of course, when we go further than the area we’re familiar with, we run the risk of either getting lost or just driving around for hours only to find nothing. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know where to go for good Christmas light displays? What if you want to just get to the light displays without necessarily having to spend the time driving around until you find a row of homes decked out for the season? As it turns out, one Philadelphia-based dad had the same exact thinking as the rest of us. And that led him to coming up with the perfect solution. He’s the holiday hero that we didn’t realize we needed.

Mike Kane came up with ChristmasPrism, an app specifically dedicated to finding the perfect Christmas lights. And it’s just in time too, as many of us are seeking socially distant holiday activities to do – and what better than staring at pretty lights from the safety of our cars? Plus, it’s a way to pretend that we’re still living in simpler times when the world wasn’t a dumpster fire. As the father shared with Philly Mag, the reason for his creation of ChristmasPrism came from what he described as “fatherly necessity.”

Kane is a 36-year-old father to two children, a one-year-old and a two-year-old. The family resides in Delaware County where the residents, apparently, are very serious about their Christmas displays. They allegedly begin their festive decorations as early as November. Naturally, with such a decorative streak all around, it’s impossible not to want to drive around and take in all the sights. However, as most parents know, children can sometimes be a little impatient. And in between houses, Kane found his 1-year-old getting quite sad when there were no lights to be seen. That is when the idea came to him. Why not create an app that essentially can remove the “dead” time in-between finding beautiful Christmas light setups?

That is when he got busy designing his app. It took him around three weeks to fully create the ChristmasPrism app, usually working quite hard on Friday nights and early on Saturday mornings. But it paid off and now users of the app can sign up and either add their own homes to the list of light displays, or they can select their location in order to get notifications of lights in their area. Users can even “like” the homes in order to give higher ratings so that others know where the cool displays are. Users can even leave comments for the homes that they visit.

While a majority of the homes listed on ChristmasPrism are currently in the Delco area where Kane lives, there are no restrictions in regards to app location. So, technically, anyone can start a listing for their area.

Sunday night See the Lights!🎄MASSIVE shout-out to the Christmasprism app! (only for iPhone) It was super useful in…

Posted by Suzette L Mako on Monday, December 14, 2020

Kane is a self-taught coder, a skill that came in handy when he began developing his app. As he explained to the magazine, “I wanted to try something I had never done before. Something difficult. I wanted to prove something to myself. So I picked the hardest thing I could think of: I taught myself to code. It took me a year of reading books and practicing around the clock. All day. Every day.”

Kane works full-time for Connectify, a Center City tech firm, where his team was responsible for developing the VPN called Speedify. While his job might be working for big names, he has noted that his app is purely a passion project. He stated, “There is no underlying plot. I’m not collecting data to sell. I’m not selling advertising. Everybody just puts so much effort into their decorating. It’s just a way for people to show off a little during these dark times. And for others to find joy.”

Have you tried ChristmasPrism yet? Let us know!

Subscribe to 12 Tomatoes