Holiday Lights in BrandonLooking for something to do with the family during the holidays? Take them out for a drive to the following neighborhoods for a look at some of the most extravagant Christmas lights and decorations. Bring along hot chocolate, blankets and maybe even some hay in the bed of a truck. Christmas Lane Christmas Lane, which is located at 2091 Wooten Rd. in Dover, is put on by Lane Wetherington along with a group of 20 volunteers, consisting of family and friends and offers something for every member of the family, including a visit from Santa himself. According to Wetherington, it takes him and the volunteers about a month and a half to put up the lights, displays and the small train that children ride. He began on November 1 and plans to work all the way up to opening day, December 1. “It would not happen without the help of the volunteers,” he said. “It started when I was a kid with a fascination for lights.” Wetherington, whose birthday is in November, says he would ask for Christmas lights as gifts. Later, he bought a company specializing in commercial lighting which added to the display. “We’ve been given some things and built others,” says Wetherington, who estimates that about 45,000 people toured the annual display last year. This year, he says they have added a Toy Store/Shop, where elves are hard at work making toys for good little girls and boys. Hot chocolate, popcorn, hot dogs and other foods are served throughout the display, served by the volunteers. According to Wetherington, his December electric bill is about $3,500. Rumors have circulated that TECO picks up the tab for Wetherington’s bill, but he said “the only help I get from them is a bill in the mail.” Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Christmas Lane is open from 6-10 p.m. every night through December 28, the Sunday after Christmas. Santa will be arriving on December 19 and will be at Christmas Lane until December 24. He will come out from 7-9 p.m. every night except Christmas Eve; he will be coming out for only one hour, from 6-7 p.m. Christmas Lane will close if it is raining. “We do it for the kids,” he says. Wetherington said he likes to emphasize that there is well-lit parking and off duty officers that volunteer their time to come out as security so it’s a safe place for moms to take their kids. To get to Christmas Lane, take S.R. 60 to Dover Rd., go north for about three miles and turn right on Wooten Rd. Barrington Oaks Barrington Oaks, located off of Lumsden Rd. in between Bryan and John Moore roads, consists of 51 homes, most of which decorate for the holidays. Decorations range from blowups to nativity scenes and more. Gates to the community open daily at 6 p.m. and stay open until 11 p.m., except on Christmas Eve and Christmas, where the lights stay on until 12:30 p.m. Cranberry Lane Another standout display in the area is at 407 Cranberry Ln., between Parsons Ave. and Kingsway Rd., just north of Clay Ave. The display includes 12,000 lights with snowmen playing in fake snow. Homemade wooden characters and houses display snowmen skiing on a slope, selling trees, riding in a sleigh and ice skating. In Santa’s workshop, reindeer learn to fly, and a train makes a delivery to the elves. Brandon Forest Brandon Forest is located in Seffner off of Parsons Ave. north of Windhorst Rd. and south of Wheeler Rd. From S.R. 60, travel north up Parsons Ave., go through the Windhorst Rd. light and make a right onto Forest Circle. A Brandon Forest resident for 20 years, Brenda Cannon said people come from all over to see them [the lights]. “Almost all the houses do the lights; I love it, being part kid. I have a talking snowman and people will yell out how much they like him and kids walk by and look at him,” she said. There are luminaries for a very nice glowing feel and people walk around and talk to neighbors. Some of the neighbors dress in elf costumes and green tights and hand out candy to kids she says. “I so love it, it is why I wanted to move in this neighborhood ever since I was a kid living in Mango and still love and I am almost 60,” she said. “It is the way things should be with all of us instead of holed up in our houses not caring about each other.” The busiest nights to see the lights are December 23 and 24, the two nights before Christmas. Cannon said that most families with small children come through before 9 p.m., but people can drive through before those days and after that time. Wexford Green Wexford Green, located right off of Valrico Rd. in between Durant Ave. and Lumsden Rd. is a community located on a dead-end road, Wexford Green Dr.

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Jennifer is the Assistant Editor at the Osprey Observer, having climbed the corporate ladder from intern in 2007. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. She lives in Channing Park with her husband, Eric, and their two dogs.