Lakewood Ranch couples are shining stars of Christmas lights
At Christmas, these neighbors can't wait for the sun to go down.
| 8:30 a.m. December 18, 2019
For the past five years at Christmas, anyone who gets a glimpse of the Gremaux and Skelly homes on Golden Leaf Court in Summerfield are drawn to get a closer look.
At night, their neighboring rooftops and yards at 6443 and 6447 Golden Leaf Court feature a mecca of holiday cheer and inspiration.
On Ty and Stephanie Gremaux’s yard, there are scenes of reindeer grazing, an elf climbing a ladder and an assortment of holiday cheer as you listen to Christmas music. The oak tree in front has 50 strands of lights dedicated to its branches.
The centerpiece of Jack and Deborah Skelly’s yard is a 6-foot Christmas tree Jack Skelly made from a PVC pipe and strings of lights. There’s also Santa atop a polo bear, snowmen and a dinosaur. On the roof, you’ll even see Santa Claus being pulled by his reindeer.
“We love to look at it,” Jack Skelly said. “We can’t wait for the sun to go down.”
“I wish this time of year lasted longer,” Deborah Skelly said. “As soon as the decorations are up, I feel happier. It’s nice. I love it.”
The couples each spent at least four eight-hour days setting up their yards simply because they love it — and they love for others to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Both start by hanging the lights on their home, then adding the inflatables and finishing up their work with the lighting around the yard. They have to start early — before Thanksgiving, for sure, and this year more like the first weekend in November — to make sure it all gets done.
The Skellys’ obsession with Christmas decorations began after they moved to Summerfield from Valdosta, Ga., in late 2014. In Georgia, they would put icicle lights on the house and a manger scene in the yard. But being near their grandson, Liam Skelly, who is now 6, changed their plans.
“We wanted him to know the magic of Christmas,” Jack Skelly said. “It grew from there.”
That first year, they had two inflatables in the yard and decorated a big oak tree that has since been removed. Each year since, they have added to the display.
The Gremauxes always liked to decorate but enhanced their efforts after they saw what the Skellys were doing. It’s become a bit of a friendly competition.
“It started with an inflatable penguin,” Stephanie Gremaux said. “It snowballed from there. Ty really loves Christmas. It’s his addiction, but it’s turned into mine too.”
The Skellys said 90% of their attic space is dedicated to Christmas decor.
The Gremauxs have filled all of their attic completely. Stephanie Gremaux said the couple had to buy bigger storage racks for the garage for their decor and no longer can fit both cars in the garage.
And even though their homes already are full of holiday cheer, the couples said they can’t help hunting for more. They love looking at Christmas lights at other homes for inspiration. Plus, they both arrive as soon as stores open — 6:30 a.m. Dec. 26 — to snatch up replacement lights or any fun, interesting decorations they can add for the following year.
“You can’t help yourself, and it’s 50% off,” Deborah Skelly said.
Both couples have tried to convert to all LED lights, so they last longer, but they generally plan to replace lights every five years or so.
The Skellys and Gremauxes said their yard space is becoming limited with all the current decorations, but that won’t stop them from expanding in future years.
“We’re running out of yard space, so we have to start going up,” Stephanie Gremaux said. “Roof space, I think, is underutilized.”
Both couples said they love how their homes bring joy to others.
“It’s a little contagious,” Deborah Skelly said. “This is the first year I’ve seen this many lights out at our neighbors.”