News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS The home of John and Jan Shoop on Lakeview Drive in Sebring.
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published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Season of lights
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
Christmas brings with it a sense of wonder and miracles, the joy of celebration because Jesus Christ was born.
Like the star that led the three wise men, Christmas lights twinkle and blink, turning homes and yards into gifts to the street.
Ask the Somers family, on the south end of Lakewood Road, why they enjoy taking months putting up their display of 40,000 lights. They say their work is for children.
"Kids' eyes pop open," patriarch Herb Somers Sr. said. "I enjoy seeing that and hearing the kids ooh and aah. The lights turn it into Christmas, even though there's no snow."
The Somers decorate for the joy of sharing. They do not accept donations. "If I can't afford to run the lights," Somers said, "I don't need to put them up." He added the electrical costs are not astronomical, adding about $150 to his monthly bill.
This is partly because he and his wife Sandy open their windows and turn off the air conditioner. Somers added laughing, "Besides, it's so bright outside, we almost don't need lights inside."
Somers, his wife, and grown children join together to put up the lights. "I use single strands," Somers said, "no net lighting -- except for one small bush."
A few years ago Somers' son, Herb II, added a computer program that coordinates the lights to dance to music.
The family begins getting ready in September. Somers Sr. typically has everything up and running by Dec. 1.
This year he is running a little behind, but expects to be ready by Dec. 7.
A few blocks away, on Sportsman Avenue just south of Harder Hall, another family works just as hard, setting out just as many lights, also choreographed to music.
Certainly motivated by children's reactions, the family added the spirit of Christmas giving. They put out a donation box in support of Habitat for Humanity, and 100 percent of the money collected goes to the organization.
The family asked their last name not be used. This is not about them, Ken, the dad, designer and installer explained. He added that Habitat was selected to receive the money collected because 100 percent of the organization's funds are spent in Highlands County and it provides housing for families who would otherwise never be able to own their own home.
These two light shows mesmerize everyone who drives by. That's because both displays are Disney World spectacular. Tree and bushes are wrapped, flashing arches added and the roofs entirely covered.
Ken broadcasts his music through a FM channel, 106.7, so people can hear the music without getting out of their cars (Somers also has a radio transmitter set up).
He begins stringing up his lights on Nov. 1, working every day off. In a family tradition, the lights are lit Thanksgiving night. "It's all about supporting a good cause and brightening children's lives," he said.
"The first year my neighbors thought I was crazy," he said. "They probably still do."
Ken shook his head in wonder at their good will and patience. Several times he said how lucky and grateful he was for them.
Dr. Gary Pearce's office at 211 U.S. 27 South in Lake Placid also brightens the night.
"It's been a tradition for years," Pearce said. "The patients love it, and being an eye doctor I like doing something to dazzle the eyes."
When asked how many lights he puts up, Pearce wasn't sure. "You'd have to count them yourself," he said. "It's in the thousands. The best thing about lights," he added, "is that they are universal. People of all religions enjoy them."
His office will be open from 5-9 p.m. the night of the Lake Placid Christmas Parade. "We're decorated inside, too," Pearce said. "Come on in and socialize.
One word of warning, be very careful driving -- viewers are often distracted. And please be thoughtful of people's yards when parking.
VllZDVyYoAeoRuPOet (by: This article achieved exactly what I wntaed it to achieve. - 12/8/2012)
This article achieved exactly what I wntaed it to achieve.
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