Happy Halloween

Family Halloween

My sisters and me in the late 60’s

Halloween is really, almost over…two hours to go and nobody has rung the doorbell for at least 30 minutes.  So, Happy Halloween to all you spooks out in the world.  I’m not sure what it is ab…

Source: Happy Halloween

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Taking to the Skies

Taking to the skies once again. This time business met with pleasure as I made my way to Kansas City for a leadership conference of The Association of Fundraising Professionals and then on to my Alma Mater, Washburn University and their 150th Anniversary.  I had only flown Southwest Airlines once prior to this trip, but oh how fun and entertaining. (More on that later). My colleagues and I arrived into Kansas City and we checked in to the the lovely Downtown Marriott. It’s Muelbach Tower awaited us with a rich history.  Manager Barney Allis took over the hotel in 1931, and during his lengthy tenure, the hotel welcomed celebrities including Helen Keller, Ernest HemingwayBabe RuthFrank SinatraBob HopeElvis Presley, and The Beatles. The hotel also hosted Presidents including Theodore RooseveltWoodrow WilsonCalvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Missouri-native Harry S. Truman stayed in the hotel’s Presidential Suite so frequently that the Muehlebach became known as White House West. Downtown Kansas City is a beautiful place and area fountains were blue in celebration of a successful Royals post season and World Series run.  Thursday and Friday offered great conference sessions where I made new friends and learned new strategies to set a course for our local AFP chapter in the New Year.  Friday afternoon, I was excited to be voted the representative to the international board of directors in the year to come. The evening would then open up to the excitement of the Kansas City Royals looking to clinch the American League pennant in their home city.  Friends from college, colleagues from AFP and I made our way to the action. We found a great table where the food and drinks satisfied our palate and it was “Game On.”  Royals struck first and while it was touch and go, the Royals would not disappoint a frothy fan base. We made our way to the “Power and Light” District where fans were crazy with winning fever!  It was incredible to be part of the action and it brought back memories of the Royals winning the World Series in 1985 over the St. Louis Cardinals. It is funny how that tied in to the next leg of my journey but not before the closing speaker, Carol Hallquist, President of the Hallmark Foundation gave a mind opening presentation cleverly using Hallmark cards to present “10 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years.”   After her speech, it was on to Topeka, Capitol of Kansas for all you curious history buffs.

My alma mater, Washburn University” was celebrating its 150th anniversary. (No not my 150th reunion).  And wow, what fun!  Homecoming weekend would culminate in a parade, grand unveiling of the new welcome center, football game and the Bow Tie Bash!  Most people have never heard of Washburn University, home of the fighting Icabods!  What is an Icabod you ask?  Well 150 years ago, Thompson College was founded and renamed Washburn after a generous benefactor Icabod Washburn who gave a $25,000 gift in order to grow the college and open its doors to women and African Americans. Washburn was certainly a man before his time.  Home to around 8,000 students, Washburn offers a variety of majors and is home to a law school where people like newsman Bill Kurtis and politician Bob Dole graduated. The campus has seen an amazing facelift in the 30 years since I graduated. New union, housing, stadium, remodeled buildings and the crown jewel in their new Morgan Hall welcome center. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation also has a new 95,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility on campus where forensic students can engage and learn from the best of reality CSI.  The Bow Tie Bash was a well attended affair and there was music, food, and fun!  The president of Washburn, Dr. Farley, is…well an unassuming rockstar!  He mixes and mingles with everyone, from students to major donors to the college. He is engaging, fun and has done a great job to elevate Washburn both in and out of the city. His trademark is his bow tie…as seen in the picture with the man, the legend, the rockstar!  Thanks President Farley!  There are so many wonderful memories of Washburn and the years I spent there. Ask and I will tell. In addition to having a first “real” boyfriend, losing a friend in a freak accident, attending sporting events, learning the constellations in my favorite teacher’s class (thanks Dr. Parnell…I still remember them and often look to the skies and think back to your class), making my first “D” ever in school (really didn’t like economics), it was there I learned about philanthropy.  From my anthropology class and doing a project feeding the homeless to working at United Way. That would set my course on a journey filled with so much for which I am grateful. Yes and that would lead me to annual gifts and a planned gift for my beloved Washburn. Join me and remember your school and all it gave you and maybe still gives you. Go to a reunion, a celebration, buy a brick, make an annual gift, put them in your estate plan, connect with an old professor to say thank you, call a classmate you haven’t talked with in years. It is amazing how fast the years evaporate and memories flood your mind. As the memory booked closed on the weekend, I made plans to head home but not before staying with our family friend Doug. Doug, his wife and my mom were all in the PTA when their kids and my siblings and I were in school. I babysat for his son and it was Doug who made my sister Meredith and my birthday by paying for our lunch when we were teenagers. Well, he hasn’t changed. Still the funny, generous and outspoken man I’ve always known.   He took me to dinner…not just anyplace mind you. We went to the fried chicken (yes FRIED) Mecca in Leawood called “RC’s.” My mouth watered as I watched sumptuous treats pass us by. Finally our plates arrived and they were adorned with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Wow, what a treat. And yes, every Midwest meal should be complete with cobbler.  Not just any cobbler…blackberry cobbler with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Then, as the former Dean Foods guru says “Val, put two small coffee creamers on top to make it perfect.”  Bring on two spoons.  Thanks Doug!  The trip came to a humorous close on Southwest.  If you ever fly the KC to Dallas or Dallas to New Orleans trek, look and listen for John Booker.  He is the funniest flight attendant ever! He had us all laughing with tears rolling into the aisle. On the trek from Dallas to Orlando, I boarded the plane.  Much to my surprise there was a seat on the FRONT row between two gentlemen.  Their wives were in the seats on the other side of the aisle.  My fascination and excitement of sitting in the FRONT row was evident as I plopped myself right down…I’ve never flown first class before and Southwest doesn’t have such things…so I seized the opportunity to have a window seat on THE FRONT ROW!!!  Yipee, oh happy day.  That also meant one of the first off the plane. Sweet!  I look forward to my next Southwest flight unless Delta reinstates that Skymall Magazine!  Thanks to all my colleagues, friends and flight attendants who made this a wonderful trip which is a fabulous tapestry woven together with memories of the past and those to come.

 

It’s Who You Are

I grew up hearing stories about when my mom took me for my first swimming lesson and I cried.  No, it wasn’t because I hated the water, but rather all the other kids were crying and so I played along and cried too.  Maybe it is because I am a water sign that I have always gravitated to the water.  Lakes, oceans, swimming pools or a tub.  Where there is a body of water, I can find myself paddling around for hours.

On my 52nd birthday, I joined the Masters Swim Team called the Blue Dolfins (yes, that is the spelling).  It’s funny, the younger Blue Dolfins is who my daughter swam with when she was younger.  While I’m not quite the swimmer I was 35 years ago, it has taken me back to a “happy place.” Like 35 years ago, I’m making great friends but now it is more for exercise and getting my cardio going.  Coach Aaron is a cool guy who is a great motivator and teacher.  There have been many changes over the years to the strokes…no wonder kids today are breaking records!

On the way to practice, I wake up by listening to music that will carry me through the workouts.  One song that resonates while swimming is A.J. Michalka’s “It’s Who You Are.”  “It’s not how fast, it’s not how far, it’s not of cheers, it’s who you are.”   “Learning to bend and not to break.  Living to give more than you take.  Dying to live, Living to try.  Feet on the ground, dreams in the sky.”  Yeah, and then there are songs from Fall Out Boy, Avicii and classics from Boston that go through my mind.

As practice begins, it is dark outside.  Watching the sun come up is kinda cool.  One of my first mornings swimming, I was taking a breath and thought I was dying and “seeing the light.”   It was just the overhead lights in the pool area.  Nothing dramatic, no CPR needed, no drowning scene.  Since then, I’ve taken at least a half a dozen gulps of pool water and water up my nose.  Gives new meaning to the term “feel the burn.”  I’ve also found out that I don’t need to use a pull buoy as I have a natural drag on my body called extra weight.  There have been days where the pool has a wonderful fog on it and the more we swim, the more fog we make.  The fast lanes are really foggy.  There have been beautiful sunrises and on occasion it rains.  No lightning so it’s all good…we are already wet right?  When doing backstroke it is neat to watch all the planes flying over and wondering where people are going.  Swimming now isn’t so serious. It’s a judgement-free zone and everyone is there to swim, be healthier, and find their happy place.

Swimming leads me back to all those years ago when in 9th grade I tried out for the drill team.  Not really surprising, I didn’t make it.  Disappointing perhaps but it was to set a course of destiny that would forever change my life.  After my shortcomings with pom-poms, I found myself trying out for swim team.  There I was, my first day at the Boys and Girls Club pool after school where practice happened.  Coach Tom put me in the first lane, thrown in to swim with the sharks;  Martin Thoma, Firth Krueger and others.  There I was, in all my glory, complete with a polka dot bikini top and swim skirt with the design looking like the three dots on a television screen.  So, it was then and there, I set off on my first 25.  Then my second which is when I found out really quickly this was a test to separate the men from the boys and girls from the women.  I would promptly be run over.  This is the moment I found out where the term “suck my wake” came from.  I glided into the wall gasping for a breath only to accidentally grope one of the guys who ran me over.  I stood up…alive, breathing, and feeling accomplished.   I’m sure coach Tom was laughing hysterically inside.  Well, I came back the next day, and the next and so forth. Coach Tom left and Coach Dave came on board.  Crazy Coach Dave….wonder where he ever ended up?  Then, Coach Andy came into the picture.  He was awesome and made us work hard, but the reward was winning.   We wanted to work hard for him, for the team, for ourselves.   He yelled, pushed, whistled, and threw kickboards at our feet when we weren’t kicking.  There were no excuses and we were loyal to him five hours a day during the school week and on Saturday for a few hours.  In the summer, we swam in the outdoor city pool that left us freezing cold and with the taste of sucking pennies as the pool was old and had copper pipes.  Memories!  Great memories!  We won meets!  But while we were winning, we were learning life lessons that would and have carried I’m sure all of us into our adult life at some level.   We were learning perseverance, commitment, team work, individual goal setting, how to win, how to lose, how to get psyched up, how to take direction, and how to push our limits physically and mentally.  We would watch Rowdy Gaines, Mark Spitz, Shirley Babashoff and others and emulate their strokes and mannerisms.

Ready for our event!

Ready for our event!

I remember Jolie and her mom picking me up in their Beetle in the mornings at 5:00 a.m.  The winters were so damn cold in that car.  Two and a half hours in the morning and again after school.  Home to eat, do homework and go to bed…that was my life and that of my team mates.  Meets were fun, tiring, and sometimes tested our patience.  My very first swim meet, I was set up to swim the 200 freestyle.  Like it was yesterday, I remember going off the block and at the end of the pool was so sure of myself and doing my first ever flip turn.  “Yeah, I can do that” I told myself.   Well, sure I went into it the right way, but pushed off the wall all confused and ended up in someone else’s lane.  Mortified, I swam back to the end and got out thinking I was sure to be disqualified.  This little snotty nosed kid came up and in a “I’m so great” voice said “YOU CAN’T QUIT.”   I wanted to throw him in the pool.  Embarrassed I went and sat down.  Everyone rallied around me and said “it’s ok.”  Yep, that was pretty cool and shaking it off, prepared for my next race.  Over the years, it would become evident that butterfly and long distance freestyle would be my events! We never quit again. Kim Fedosky…you were my idol.  Thank you for pushing me in the fast lane, challenging me in butterfly and exposing me to awesome music.   Jill Farnsworth, I feared you!  You were an up-and-comer and chased us upper classmen like Pac-man.  Erica Bowen, Barbara Wells, Peggy Taylor, Cathy Anderson, Danine Baker, Mignonne Agee, Kat Whitehead, Amy Thoma….my sisters from other mothers.  Curtis Cumbie, Tim Brinner, John McFerrin, Strahan Massey….my brothers from other mothers.  It’s great keeping up with you on Facebook.  I remember drinking orange juice with raw eggs (nasty, what were we thinking?  Oh, teenagers, we weren’t thinking), having great times at meets.  Curtis, remember your parents driving us down the mountain to a meet in Little Rock and after eating a brown sugar pop tart I threw up in the drive thru at McDonald’s?  Yeah, I do and I’ve never had a brown sugar pop tart since!!  I could go on with the memories with all my peeps.  That might be too incriminating for some and we wouldn’t want that at our age.

Now, as practice for the day winds down, the young kids start showing up.  They are sleepy and some would rather be anyplace but the pool.  Leaving the pool area, I thank parents for bringing their kids and tell them they will have a lifetime of memories.  (both kids and their parents)   Thanks to my mom for taking me to my first lesson and being there for meets including one that coach didn’t want me to go to early so I was my own team…hehe.  Rebels!

Every practice takes me back a day or two and also makes me excited to show up next time.   I’m still learning, meeting new friends, pushing myself physically and mentally and who knows…maybe there are still some records to be broken.   Never say never!  It’s who I Am!!

A Thankful Time of Year

Osborn lights at WDW Hollywood Studios

Osborn lights at WDW Hollywood Studios

It is officially “the Holidays.”  Sure, holiday accoutrements went up in stores as Halloween approached but once Thanksgiving is over, somehow we launch into a frenzied pitch until January.  This year, more stores started Black Friday as the gravy cooled on Thanksgiving.  What would the Pilgrims think?  First they would be appalled at the amount of food consumed and then all the activities that take away from the intent of the holiday….to give thanks.

As I reflect on Thanksgiving, there are many things to which I am thankful.  A beautiful daughter, wonderful family, obedient pets (ok, obnoxious dogs), a job that allows me the freedom to be creative, daring, helpful and successful without boundaries, good health, fine friends, a roof over my head and yes, turkey in my belly but not so much that I’m like that guy on the Monty Python movie who explodes with a wafer thin mint.IMG_3619

I think about Christmas, the year behind and the year ahead.   The year behind us has brought happy memories to many and heartache to some as they have lost loved ones.  Be happy for the memories you have and remember that they are still with us in spirit through our actions and hearts.  For all of you who are mean to your friends, co-workers, family members and strangers, shame on you.  You are fortunate if they still consider you a friend.  For those of you who have been given a “second chance” at life, quit being a stooge and be thankful and happy.  You bring others down with your anger, acidic words, and frame of mind.  You infect others, so expect it in return.   Just saying, Karma is a bigger jerk than anyone!  Try a little tenderness…sure you may fall flat but at least you tried.  For those embarking on new journeys this coming year, enjoy the ride.  Nothing is guaranteed, the unknown is damn scary, but remember peace with the decisions you have made is a wonderful place and when you expect great things, somehow they happen.  It’s never been said “dream small or go home.”  NO, it’s “DREAM BIG or go home.”

Thanks to my parents who gave us wonderful holidays to remember.  The Christmas Eve parties where hundreds of people of all ages converged on our house.  Where I learned pate’ and caviar are for an “adult palate” and that the punch at one end of the table was spiked.   Where my brother and sister learned their affinity for becoming real estate moguls and development lawyers as we played Monopoly for two-weeks straight and built high-rise condos and mixed land use developments.   Thanks for my parents and grandparents for making one Christmas exceptionally magical by making original hand-made Barbie condos for my sisters and me.  They were awesome!  Oh the memories.

I suppose making Christmas happen for others is what the season is about.  From putting spare change in the Salvation Army bucket to helping others in need.  Young or old, rich or poor, you never know what circumstances people find themselves in at this time of year.  The holidays bring back so many memories good and bad.  I’ve gotten hooked on the Hallmark Christmas movies this year.  Kleenex is seeing an unusual spike in their tissues thanks to me.  My dogs look at me like “what the heck is happening to her?”   My husband rolls his eyes, as usual and makes fun of me.  Note to husband…”Santa is watching!”IMG_5032

Yes, I have plenty to be thankful for.  A special thanks to my guardian angels both known and unknown to me.  You help keep life in perspective and help me to giggle, note life’s wonder and curb my anger when I’m ready to throw darts.  Thanks, in advance, for helping me choose NICE when it comes right down to all that I do in the coming month and year.

There will be more to come in the coming weeks as I will come face-to-face with more stories to share.  In the meantime, consider giving a gift to a child in need and visit http://www.chsfl.org to give a gift that really means so much.

“Have Your “Selfie” a Merry Little Christmas”

So the good folks at the Oxford Dictionary have proclaimed “selfie” as the 2013 “word of the year.”   I much prefer that to “twerk” and you can certainly bet that there would be no holiday letter with the Mardle’s/Murray’s “twerking.”

Brianna selfie

We trust this finds you and your family doing well this holiday season.  What a year this has been.  Brianna graduated from Seminole State College in May and is furthering her education at the University of North Florida studying Psychology and Criminal Justice.  After I made her watch Silence of the Lambs, she decided the FBI is an option but lamb for dinner isn’t.  She has been involved in campus activities and has been selected into Sigma Alpha Pi which is The National Society of Leadership and Success and focuses on goal fulfillment, community involvement and leadership.  Their stated mission is “We Build Leaders Who Make a Better World.”   On her holiday trips home, she continues to work at Walt Disney World’s “Rockin’ Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror and the parade.  She just had her 3rd year anniversary of working for The Mouse.  We are proud of her beyond words.  Brianna enjoyed traveling this year to New York on spring break, Miami, Georgia and a host of places throughout Florida.  She and I participated in the “Color Run” early in the year and she continues her love of sports in Jacksonville.

 

handsome oneConductor Frank continues to play with his trains and has extended his talents with cameras to include teaching private lessons and classes at the local Crealde’ Art Gallery.  He is quite the camera aficionado.  He is the proud grandfather, not by me mind you, of six grandkids ranging in age from 6 months to 12 years.  Needless to say, he could open his own photography studio and stay busy 24/7.  Frank traveled to England in the spring as his brother passed away.  The silver lining was getting to see family that he hasn’t been with since childhood.  As always, Frank remains the handyman around the house and is always finding little things and big things to fix and tinker with.  He plays cabana boy in the summertime and is the techno guru that helps solve those pesky computer issues.

 

 

 

photo (2)I am excited to have a new career working for a tremendous organization called Devereux, a leading nonprofit behavioral health organization that supports primarily children.  Founded more than 100 years ago, we operate in 11 states.  We inspire hope, ensure well-being, and promote meaningful life choices.  It has truly changed my life as well.  To learn more, check out www.Devereux.org    In addition to a new and exciting career change, I was proud to chair Orlando’s National Philanthropy Day through the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  More than 570 guests attended the event in November which hosted the president of the International Association of Fundraising Professionals.   It was truly an honor and privilege.  This has been a transformational year for me as I continue my quest to find 5-K runs that are challenging, meet with friends at LA Fitness at 5:30 a.m., and work with a trainer a couple times a week.  I feel better all the way around.  My favorite runs were through the “Master of All Terrain” series.  From running at an abandoned airfield to the motorcross speedway in beautiful Bithlo, I was the oldest female to complete all three races.  Watch out 2014!

Our dogs Penny and Bubba continue to entertain us by being themselves.  They enjoy their car rides, trips to the park and fun near the pool in the summertime.  This year we lost our dear sweet Haley cat.  Over her 18 year life, she brought us joy and comfort.  She is missed.

Haley Selfie Bubba Penny Selfie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year was a tremendous year for birthdays.  Brianna was able to buy ME a drink as she turned 21 in June.  I followed by turning 50 the same month and my mother June, turned 80 on November 1.  To celebrate mom’s birthday, my sister Meredith coordinated a trip for everyone to meet in Kansas City at the Plaza where we invited 20 of mom’s closest Kansas friends and had lunch at the Raphael.  It was a great time.  While it was 10 degrees and there was snow, it helped to enhance the holiday feeling and made those of us coming from Florida even more grateful for the warmer climate.

Speaking of the warmer climate, we encourage you to come down or over for a visit.  Florida has many opportunities for fun year-round.  Whether it is a theme park, boating, the beach, or just enjoying seafood, we have it close by.

Well, it’s now time to go an make my winning entry for the holiday work party tomorrow.  It’s a homemade gingerbread with pear and cognac pudding recipe.  Ok, even if I don’t win, enjoying the “drunken fruits” of my labor will be well worth the investment of time.

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!  Cheers!

Biscoff, Diet Coke, and the SkyMall Magazine…what’s not to love about Delta?

I’m on vacation…three days of hanging out with my best friend from high school and college friends. It will be a slice of Americana.  Going to a high school battle of the bands, homecoming parade, homecoming football game and then going to a dinner with  the president of my college alma mater (I’m sure there will be plenty of other folks at the dinner).

 I love Delta.  First of all, I bank up my frequent flyer miles just for using my debit/credit card.  So my trip cost me all of $36 plus $50 round trip for luggage. The crews are experienced and pleasant.  After settling in on the short trip, the flight attendant came around and asked if we wanted refreshments.  Of course…and there it was…Diet Coke and the Biscoff cookies….breakfast of champions at 7:15 am.  Then, to what do my wondering eyes should appear?  It’s the Sky Mall magazine.   I always love going through this publication.  I sit and wonder what I can invent that could make it to this magazine.  From cat toilet training systems to faux tattoo tops. Do the brilliant ideas ever stop?  Oh wait, you can even get the LIFE SIZE Bigfoot aka Garden Yeti for just $2,250. Ok, how do the makers really know what “life size” is anyway?  Toward the end of the flight, we experienced turbulence that would match a good ride at Disney. There was even a lady who was screaming out of fear, much like you would hear on rockin’ roller coaster.  There were laughs and gasps and I just closed my eyes.  I figure maybe she wasn’t nervous, perhaps just sitting next to a LIFE SIZE Yeti imitating a passenger.  

 The Atlanta airport is quite a mix of people much like Orlando…ok, in Atlanta, there is a more business cosmopolitan feel where Orlando seems more touristy.  Not that touristy is bad, it’s very good for the local economy.  

 I boarded for the next leg of the journey to Kansas City and YES…nobody else on my row.  I’m now on the flight from Atlanta to Kansas City and there is a guy who looks like Samuel L. Jackson and I’m thinking to myself could it be him?  Then all I could think about was the movie snakes on a plane with Samuel L. Jackson. Now, with that said, I’m in the back of the plane next to the emergency exit. I’m thinking will the sketchy looking guy in the seat in front of me who keeps nervously looking around try to make a break for it?  Will I have to play Air Marshall and thwart an attempt to open the door at 30,000 feet?  After a fleeting thought of being sucked out of the plane with snakes mind you, I pause to catch another glimpse of the Sky Mall magazine. (Say it with me in the announcer type voice)…”Sky Mall Magazine.”  It’s like a bad car wreck, you just can’t help but look. I open it back to where I left off on the first leg of the journey and there it is…operators standing by to take my order.  It’s “Bigfoot, the bashful Yeti” tree sculpture.  It’s the bust of Bigfoot peering from around the tree. Makes me want to plant a tree just to have one.  Oh, but then the home association may condemn us like they do for an a/c unit not quite cleverly concealed enough.  Maybe I will opt for the LIFE SIZE garden Yeti just to ward off those pesky people down the street.   Maybe to “piss them off” I will opt for ordering the “Peeing Boy of Brussells” statue and fountain.  An iconic 400 year-old replica…I will plead “art history.” 

 Saved by the flight attendant passing by….”drink?” she asks.  Tempted to order a Jack Daniels like the woman across the aisle, I remain steadfast to the Diet Coke.  The Biscoff cookies are sitting there waiting for me but alas I will eat the generous portion of pretzels in a bag first.  I will save the Biscoff’s for a midnight snack when awakened from a bad dream about being sucked from a plane with snakes, garden Yeti’s and cats using toilets.  

 Here is to my adventures in rental car land next….

And the award goes to…

When my siblings and I were kids, our mother would pack us in the Vista Cruiser station wagon (it was the family vehicle with the first ever moon view skylights) and we would ohhh and ahhhh to my mom’s delight as we passed house after house decorated for the holidays.

As we became teenagers, the joy of looking at lights waned a bit and we often found other things to do.  Somehow, the “dazzle” of holiday lights took a backseat to boyfriends, swim meets, and listening to anything but boring ole Bing Crosby.

Well, what’s the saying, “the old becomes new again”  or in this case I find myself thinking, “oh jeez, I’m turning into my mother.”  Which, by the way, isn’t such a bad thing…just saying.  I’m older and wiser now and for the past couple of years have really enjoyed firing up the Camry and heading down memory lane.  The ooohhhs and ahhhhs are back.

Now, if you haven’t seen holiday lights lately, WOW, stop reading immediately and head out on a drive through your neighborhood to witness the “neighborhood spectacle of lights” your neighbors have so diligently put up for your viewing pleasure.   Our neighborhood association has a contest every year for the most creative, most beautiful, etc. in the lighting and decorating department.  Well, if I could cast my vote, it would be for the neighbors down around the corner…talk about creative, humorous holiday lights.  The first night I saw them, I laughed the whole way home.  No, not a snicker laugh, a full on Santa deep belly laugh.  So funny, I brought the family to see them….and then came down to talk with the decorating genius and take a photo of said lights.  YES, here they are….the award SHOULD go to…RUDOLPH.   Oh wait, don’t worry kids, it’s not Rudolph, no red nose.  But it is one of his relations.

In talking with our neighbors, he admits to being a country boy and he loves to hunt, fish and get close to nature.  He and his wife have both a Florida Gator AND a Georgia flag that hang at their house.  Now, if that ain’t love, I don’t know what is.  I say they both get points for being down-to-earth and extra points for their sense of humor.   Thank you for adding some holiday cheer to the neighborhood!  Kudos and if you don’t win this year’s award, see me and I’ll bring the beer and be the first to toast you on a job well done.

Ok, so if you’re not into driving around neighborhoods looking at holiday lights in fear that people will think you’re a stalker, fear not.  That’s why Walt Disney World has the “Spectacle of Lights.”   If you happen to live in Orlando or are lucky enough to visit over the holidays, this is one light display not to be missed.  We have been almost every year since they started in 1995 and my have they come a long way since the first showing with just 4 million lights.  According to www.studioscentral.com , there are now…

  • 5 million individual lights or 350 miles of lights that took 21,000 hours to install.
  • More than 40 Mickey images hidden throughout.
  • A 70-foot-tall Christmas tree glittering with 58,000 lights and a 30-foot-tall tree with 27,300 lights.
  • A whopping 800,000 watts of electricity used along the park’s 760-foot-long New York, Chicago & San Francisco Streets.
  • More than 350 miles of Christmas lights wrapped around the display with 32.2 miles of extension cables.
  • Sixty-six snow machines and 100 gallons of snow fluid used to create a flurry of snowflakes.

So back to the neighborhood lights…thank you to those of you who take the time to painstakingly string lights on your rooftops, doorways, walkways.  Thank you for checking each bulb to make sure they work and finding that one…somewhere in the strand….that keeps the others from lighting up.  Thank you for finding room in your closets, shed, attic or spare bedroom for the lights the other eleven months out of the year.  But most of all, thank you for taking time to spread your good cheer, good humor and great lights with the rest of us!  Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukah, and may we all live past what the Mayan calendar says will be the end of the world in order that you can put away those lights and then get them out again for many years to come.

More lights at WDW Hollywood Studios

Osborn lights at WDW Hollywood Studios