Mount Dora upholds decades-old Christmas tradition in honor of little girl with epilepsy

MOUNT DORA, Fla. — Since 1973, Mount Dora utility workers have hung the same Christmas bell atop a light pole at the intersection of Clayton Street and Third Avenue.

According to the Mount Dora History Museum, the bell was first hung for a little girl with epilepsy, named Melanie Mae Wise.

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The museum said she loved to drive around with her parents, Fred and June Wise, around town to look at the Christmas decorations. When she could no longer do that, Art Womble, Mount Dora utilities director, decided to hang the decoration on the utility pole outside her home for her to enjoy.

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Melanie Mae died in 1977 and her parents no longer live in the home, but museum officials said for the past 48 years, city employees have continued the tradition of hanging the decoration on the utility pole.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.