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East County Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 6 years ago

Light up the night


Benderson Development Co. proves holiday spirit is the gift that keeps on giving. Each year it lights up the University Parkway corridor with dozens of custom light displays. This year’s showing includes the popular rowers in front of The Shoppes at UTC, as well as the new Christmas present packages outside The Mall at UTC.

Polar bears, penguins and snowmen, oh my! Joe Willis’ holiday display of a unique winter wonderland features dazzling lights in every color; one section of lighted decorations even blinks in time to music.

We have no doubt Santa can see this house from the sky as he makes his rounds on Christmas Eve. Since moving to Florida from Connecticut, Ray Papiano has embraced a new holiday tradition: decorating his house Florida-style.

To keep with the theme, Santa Claus trades his sleigh for an airplane ready to land on the nearest roof, while Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer transforms into a ruby-nosed pink flamingo. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the bear riding a boogie board or the jolly alligator.

After learning of Papiano’s newfound decorating love, relatives and friends have given him decorations as gifts. Of course, there is a downside to spreading so much holiday cheer.

“I keep joking with my wife, Patricia, that I’m running out of room,” he says.

13715 18th PLACE EAST E.
Ray Makovec and a string of his neighbors in Mill Creek in the 13700 block of 18th Place East just off Rye Road are clearly full of holiday cheer — as are their homes. From classic white icicle lights and pretty wreaths with red bows to serene manger scenes reminding us of the holiday’s true meaning, a drive down this street will turn any Grinch into a Christmas-loving fiend.

A word to the wise: We hear the street attracts many other Christmas lights seekers on the lookout for the best and brightest this year.

“We’ve been doing it since 2001,” Makovec said. “It’s more and more work each year, but a lot of people enjoy it and it makes us happy.”

Frosty the 20-foot-tall snowman has been River Club’s resident beacon of holiday light for nearly 20 years. Don DeBolt, who owns the towering decoration, said this year he replaced 3,000 lights to get the snowman in picture-perfect shape. Frosty’s megawatt grin gives new meaning to the phrase, “A smile a mile wide.”


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