SEBRING - "I remember," Vincent Hill started his Yuletide tale, "growing up in Highway Park, we had what seemed to be more of a Christmas spirit."
But due to the poor economy, said Hill, past president of an association that is trying to revitalize the mostly black community south of Lake Placid, "We haven't had Christmas decorations for a long time."
So Hill and fellow officers, treasurer Teddy Calahan and current president Tiffany Green, contacted Duke Energy. They wanted to decorate the eight light poles along U.S. 27, but they needed electrical plugs.
Duke was receptive, but asked the group to contact the county commission first.
Hill and company showed up at Tuesday's meeting. Would the commissioners allow the receptacles and lock boxes?
"The residents are paying," Hill said, because they're all being assessed as part of the Highway Park lighting district. "We will be responsible for all the decorative lighting."
They had emailed Ross Macbeth, but hit a roadblock.
"The assessment is for street lighting," the county attorney objected. "And the proposed use isn't a street light. Street lighting is being providing already by the district."
Jack Richie represents Lake Placid. "Well, it's a stretch not to call it street lighting when it certainly is. When you put a Santa Claus up there that lights up and has a red-nosed reindeer hovering over this head."
The audience laughed.
Macbeth, wary of being cast at the grinch, immediately backpedaled. "Well, if the board finds that it is street lighting then..."
"Sounds like street lighting to me," Commissioner Chair Greg Harris interrupted.
"Lighting is lighting," Richie reiterated.
"In the spirit of the holidays," Commissioner Don Elwell drew another laugh, "I do believe if you're driving down the road, it would assist your vision quite a bit, especially with Rudolph leading the way."
"I don't have a problem with it," Brooks said.
"I think we have a consensus," Harris said. "Merry Christmas."
The crowd applauded.