50-year-old holiday light display in jeopardy



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A 50-year-old tradition in Lake County could be ending.

Residents in the Lakeshore Mobile Home Park in Leesburg have boasted one of the largest holiday displays in Central Florida.

Each year since the late 1950s, Lakeshore homeowners transformed their neighborhood for their annual Christmas Tree Lane holiday lights display and thousands of people drove down the block to take it all in.

But this year, residents said they may have to pull the plug on the long-time tradition.

"It's a lot of work. Lot of lifting. Lot of weight," said resident Dave Dougherty.

Dougherty said many of the men in the 55-plus neighborhood have gotten too old to set it all up and the new owners of the park won't allow the maintenance crew to help.

"The new owners told the two helpers -- we're not even supposed to talk to them during the day," Dougherty said.

"The previous manager was allowing the maintenance crew to do that. And it was not approved by the owners," said community manager Virginia Turner.

Turner said her crew offered to help when they're off the clock and said the park's owners will donate a few hundred dollars to buy candy canes to pass out to the people who drive through.

But resident Carolyn Merrell said unless somebody steps up to do the heavy lifting, the lights will go out on Christmas Tree Lane.

"The men can't do it anymore, can't set it up. So, there goes the tradition," said Merrell.

Some residents said they're still hoping for help from either the city or local historical society to keep Christmas Tree Lane open.