The City Magazine Since 1975

Deck the Yard

Deck the Yard
December 2018

Cougar Night Lights returns with even more holiday fun

Last year’s Cougar Night Lights in Cistern Yard

In 1850, when famed Charleston architect E.B. White completed the iconic columns on College of Charleston’s Randolph Hall, he could never have predicted the scene there last December: a display of 15,000 LEDs flashing in syncopation to pop hits. The digital symphony was dubbed ”Cougar Night Lights,” and it became the instant hit of the holiday season.

This December 14 to January 1, the free show returns, and with it the man behind the magic: John Reynolds, CofC class of 1997. The lighting designer has 25-plus years of experience in the motion picture industry and has done lighting for events ranging from the Olympics to a British royal wedding.

In fact, “When the College called me up, I was working on a project for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade using the same RGB technology that we ultimately featured at the Cistern,” he says. “Each light is a pixel and is individually controllable, so you can make patterns that join up with music.”

Reynolds lined Randolph Hall’s columns and Cistern Yard’s oaks in lights timed to songs like “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder.” This year’s display is even more audacious—24,000 LEDs strong. And, bonus: starting on the hour every hour from 6 to 9 p.m., it’s followed by the 2017 show, offering 20 full minutes of fun.


Photograph by (Cougar Night Lights) Mike Ledford