Christmas comes early to Alexandra Saab’s home in Pinecrest. Right after Halloween, Saab and her mother bring out the Christmas lights and begin to create the Winter Wonderland that thousands of people come and visit throughout the Holiday season.
“It takes a month to put them up,” Saab says. “We turn them off around the third or fourth of January.”
The family has been putting up the 250,000-light display for the past 16 years. In the last few years, the display has helped raise money for St. Jude’s Hospital. “My cousin, when he was little, had a brain tumor, when he was three or four. He’s 10 now,” she says. “St. Jude’s was great. After that, we started collecting donations.”
The Saab house is located on Southwest 104th Street and 60th Avenue, near Pinecrest Elementary. Saab says the lights are easier to take down than put up, but putting them away is an ordeal.
“We rent a U-Haul,” she says. “When my brother went to the University of Miami, we had his fraternity brothers helping us; but not anymore.”
While it all sounds like it would be too much to handle, Saab says she likes working on the display.
“I find it very exciting when we put them up,” she says. “And to collect the donations is amazing. Every night we get donations. Even in this time of economic despair, people are willing to give.”
Putting up the light display is a family affair. Saab says one grandfather’s role is fixing broken light sets.
“Even when we changed from regular to LED, he learned how to fix the LED lights,” she says.
The LED lights do help them conserve some electricity, but the family’s electric bill goes up a few hundred dollars because of the display.
“Before LED, you couldn’t blow dry your hair or play video games at night because the power would go off,” she says. “We have a new electric box just for Christmas lights.”
The display does not stay stagnant. Each year they get new figures to add to those already being shown.
“Our neighbors bring us new figures. I guess they don’t want us to stop,” she says. In fact, she says, if they don’t start work on the display, neighbors come over to see what’s going on with the lights.
Saab is a senior at Palmetto High where she the school’s Silver Knight nominee in the Vocational Technical category.
“I’m big in television production at the school,” she says. “Last year we received the Excellence Award for Daily Broadcast at a national competition. This year on the national level we won a couple of awards, one called Sweet 16. You have 16 hours to put together a broadcast based on one word.”
She comes by her broadcast talent by way of her father, who was a radio DJ in Miami and still does voice over work. Saab is also a member of the school’s water polo team and she was on the swim team.
Outside of school, she plays beach volleyball and belly dances. She has 1,500 community service hours, including hours from working on the Mr. Panther event this year. Her community service and strong academics have earned her several college scholarship offers, including one from the University of Miami. Where ever she goes, she wants to end up in dental school and specialize in Oral Maxillofacial Dentistry.