It’s a festive and decades-old tradition that garnered Mount Dora the reputation of being arguably the Best Little Christmas Town in Florida. This year, the beloved tradition will continue, albeit with some changes due to COVID-19.
City crews are working hard to hang the nearly 2 million lights downtown, but this year the impressive light display will be expanded to create a more walkable display that includes Simpson Cove, as well as part of Gilbert Park. Spectators will be able to stroll from downtown’s Donnelly Park to Mount Dora Marina’s jaw-dropping Christmas display and continue to Simpson Cove and the park to enjoy more lights.
Joe Lewis, owner of Mount Dora Marina and Boating Center, says this year's LED display will be bigger, better and brighter than ever before. “In my view, people need a great Christmas experience more than ever before, and it's our pleasure to be able to help out a little.” This marks the 24th year Lewis and his small crew of elves have worked overtime to produce what is believed to be the largest private light display in Central Florida.
As usual, the lights will be turned on sometime during the last two weeks in November. However, this year the City of Mount Dora will forego its crowded Light Up ceremony and won’t give advance notice of the date in order to reduce the crowd size and create a safer environment. Once the lights are on, Mount Dora Buzz will post it on its Facebook page so residents and visitors can make plans to enjoy the display without the large crowds. The towering musical Christmas tree will also return to Sunset Park in November.
Mount Dora’s holiday lights will remain up until Mount Dora Arts Festival in early February so residents and visitors have plenty of time to enjoy it.
Lewis and his wife, Suzy, will host their annual “Light Night for Tykes” when they open the gates to their magical winter wonderland to benefit Toys for Tots on Saturday, December 5th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s the only night the inside of the sprawling illuminated display is open to the public (see video below). The charity event collects toy donations for underprivileged children by asking for a new, unwrapped toy to gain admission. The marina is located at 148 Charles Avenue at downtown Mount Dora’s lakefront near the lighthouse.
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