‘Spirit of the Season’ tradition lives on

(L to r) William Thompson, Thomasena Thompson, James McCants and CRA board member Denise Covington outside the Thompson residence.

South Miami Icon David Bethel was a teacher at Ludlam Elementary, South Miami Middle School and J.R.E. Lee before becoming a commissioner from 1996 to his 2004 retirement. A few years before his passing Commissioner Bethel began a special holiday tradition that continues today. The 2011 “Spirit of the Season” awards for home decorations in the community redevelopment agency area enjoyed another beautiful season.

Twinkling lights in reds, greens, blues and whites, a sea of giant candy-canes, and Santa Claus with his green-hooded elves led by Rudolph and a sleigh of reindeer were all to be enjoyed by the passerby in an outdoor winter wonderland tucked in the heart of South Miami.

“Commissioner Bethel galvanized the community to begin a new tradition of outdoor holiday lights and decorations to expand the spirit of the season among neighbors and friends in the community redevelopment agency (CRA) area. His Spirit of the Season legacy lives on today,” said Programs Coordinator and Community Outreach Director for the CRA James McCants.

Five homes in particular were honored this year for their creative and colorful displays. James and Margaret Dean of 62 Street outdid themselves yet again with their one of a kind six foot ornaments individually crafted by Dean. In shapes of candy canes and snowflakes the larger than life creations bedazzled the front lawn. “I see a design and it just comes to me, I make it. Each one takes about 45 minutes or so to do. Instead of going to the store and buying them, I make my own.” Jacqueline Hill Moultry of 62 Terrace and her son Jaiden went for a “Disney on Ice” theme. Giant fancily wrapped presents decorated their front lawn while Mickey Mouse and Tiger and Rudolph and friends seemed to be skating around the gifts.

Thomasena and James Thompson of 63 Street must have hired the Jolly Green Giant to set up their lights. The bright twinkling colors wrapped around the trunks of tall palm trees and the rest of the beautifully landscaped tropical foliage.

At Rosa Gragg’s house on 63 Terrace, Santa Claus and his friendly elves were gathered around the front lawn celebrating what appeared to be a party hosted by none other than Frosty the Snowman. His snowman arm was waving hello as if in invitation to join along.

“Every display is a winner,” said McCants. It is always a pleasure to see the beautiful colorful lights and enjoy the enthusiasm of those who participate for all in the community to celebrate the spirit of the season show.”

Each home receives a sign to add to their unique display that reads: “Spirit of the Season Award. In recognition of your efforts to share holiday cheer and inspire community pride.” To find out more about the “Spirit of the Season” David Bethel community tradition and other CRA community outreach programs contact James McCants at 305-796-2536 or email jmccants@southmiamifl.gov.


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