A million lights

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It’s the 20 anniversary of the incredible Christmas display at the Mt. Dora Boating Center and Marine and, loving Christmas as I do, seeing what the Joe Lewis family gives back to their community is something thousands (including me) cannot miss.

Mt. Dora is a small lakefront, tourist-oriented community in central Florida. Each year Christmas is celebrated there with everything from a lighted boat parade (which Mt. Dora Boating Center produces) to a Cannonball Christmas Express, with a real wood-burning steam engine.

See a short video of the Mt. Dora Boating Center display this year here:

But for the Lewis family (Joe, Susan and their kids Joey and Julia) Christmas has meant two decades of trimming their property from top to bottom with Christmas lights and artful displays that literally dazzle thousands of locals and tourists alike.


From the marina’s covered boat-wells to some new boat inventory strategically placed all around the grounds, everything gets lights! Indeed, while Joe says he has stopped counting, the kids will tell you there are more than 1.1 million lights they start putting up in October to be ready for the season!

There are many 3-D special lighted displays, like a Christmas train on one roof; Santa and his elves on another; giant trumpeting angels and glowing stars on building sides; and palm trees wrapped in color throughout the property. They’ve all been fabricated in “Santa’s workshop,” a special room on the property into which Joe disappears to “create.”


What makes the family’s efforts so inspiring is their clear motive to be generous and a genuine benefit to their community. It clearly reflects who they are, what they value, as well as their love for the spirit of Christmas.

So, with this my Christmas blog, I recall writing some years ago that perhaps every dealership might take time to consider some way of showing who they are and what they value.

Putting up a million lights is one way, but that’s just the Lewis approach. It doesn’t take that. It can be stepping up to a leadership position in a community cause (they exist in every town if you look for them) or visibly and financially supporting a key local charity.


Perhaps it could be starting a dealership tradition, like: a fill-a-boat food drive; an ‘Angel’ or ‘Giving’ Christmas Tree in the showroom; a recognition meal for homeless, first responders or veterans in the community; new or repaired bikes by the service department for needy kids; cooking at a local Ronald McDonald House; taking gifts to a children’s ward; the possibilities are really limitless.

Some may be worthy of public recognition, some perhaps not. But they can all do good, even be team building and, if for no other reason it is the spirit of Christmas.

To all who read this blog, Blessings to you and all those you hold dear this Christmas.


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