LED light control system

I've been looking into making a led light system and after doing a lot of research on this project I haven't been able to find a hardware guide that seems to fit.

The goal of the project would be to have multiple strips of lights(10-15 led's) 2'-3' apart going up and down where the user will be able to select which lights to turn on and off and what colors to make the lights. I want it to be able to show letters and numbers.

It will be a large project - it will hang from the front of my house.

What hardware should I get for this project? Any advice will be appreciated.

Thank you!

You want to control the LEDs individually in each strip? There are LED strips that have a controller per LED in them.
If you want the LEDs farther apart, then combine a controller and RGB LED on a little boad and daisy chain those together - maybe a chip like WS2801 or WS2812B (search posts from yesterday for WS2812B data sheet)

You want to control the entire strip as on element? Boards using TCIP6B595 can control 8 LED strips per chip, like this one I offer, with up to 12 TCIP6B595 (96 LED strips)

The Nike fuel band display looks like what i want to build just on a larger scale and with color. I've spent the last hour trying to find a decent tutorial on how to make something like that and I've come up empty.

Nike fuel band used two of the cards above, 2nd card just had shift registers, so I was outputting 20 bytes on each update, with 5 bits from each shift register driving a column.
I have cards in stock, bare boards, or I can build up a set for you.
Have to check on sockets in case you blow something up.