For Rodney and Audra Burton, Christmas lights are more than just decorations; they’re also a way to give people a place to escape their everyday lives.
“This is truly for the community. That’s what this is all about: giving something back, paying it forward from those blessings that God has allowed us to be able to see and manifest its gift into something with lights,” Rodney said.
The couple competed in 2023’s The Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC with their display of nearly 120,000 LED pixels in Valrico.
The Burtons applied to compete in 2022 by sending in photos and videos of their music-synchronized display. They were selected for the holiday show and their display was recorded last winter for this Christmas’ episode.
While they did not win the $50,000 prize, Audra said it was “a win just to get on the show.”
The Burtons’ display started with 5,000 pixels but has grown rapidly over the past six years. Their 2023 display took 35 days of 10 or more hours to set up, beginning at the end of September.
“It’s a labor of love and passion,” Rodney said “… It’s not just an average Christmas light show.”
“When you see it, it’s a work of art. It’s not just put out in the yard. Everything has been strategically placed with that guide,” Rodney said.
Rodney said the size of the display is unheard of for a team of just two people. While they do not have kids, the opportunity to give back to the community is the driving force behind their dedication to the display.
“We’ve sacrificed vacations to do Christmas lights instead of going to places,” Audra said.
The couple collects pet food and monetary donations for local pet rescues, including A Kitten Place and Raining Cats and Dogs Shelter and Sanctuary. Rodney said they donate all money raised directly to the organizations. As the owners of two cats, Pumpkin and Pixie, the cause holds a special place in their hearts.
“We adopted two kittens this year and both of them came from one of those rescues, so that’s why we decided to go with them,” Audra said.
Their display is open to the public at 2014 Sydney Rd. in Valrico through Wednesday, January 31. For more information, visit Burton Family Light Show on Facebook.