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“His last moments in life were looking at something so beautiful”: NCFL holiday light display keeps spirits alive

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 11:04 AM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Driving around to enjoy holiday lights is a tradition Cara Poe has looked forward to every year for as long as she can remember.

“It makes you smile,” said Poe. “It just puts light into our hearts when we see different colored lights.”

Her favorite being Richard Mason’s display in Windsor which featured around 100 thousand lights spread across five acres.

“One thing I always remembered is every year we would try and figure out what he would add,” said Poe.

Until one year, Mr. Mason’s yard stood dark. That’s when Cara and her husband got the idea to start their own display for the community to come out and enjoy -- including Mr. Mason and his daughter Belinda Chapman

“We went out to look at lights and the last place we looked was here before we went home and he had a stroke a few hours later,” said Chapman.

Though in spirit, Mr. Mason is still helping spread holiday joy as the Chapman family gifted many of his decorations to the Poe’s.

“His last moments in life was looking at something so beautiful. Something that made him so happy when he did it every year for everyone else and so we were able to give him that moment,” said Poe. “I didn’t even know the man and he didn’t even know that we did it because of him.”

Now, more than 25,000 lights fill Cara’s yard for all to appreciate.

“He lives on in our hearts, now he lives on in the decorations as well,” said Chapman.

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The light display located at 2605 SE County Rd 219A Hawthorne, Florida 32604 is open to the public through January 6.

Santa is in attendance Saturday and Sundays from 7 to 9 am. Lights will be on from dark to 11 pm Thursday through Sunday and dark until midnight on Friday and Saturdays.

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