A South Miami neighborhood celebrated its first lighted Christmas holiday, thanks to a community effort of a volunteer corps of citizens, contributions and a lending hand from municipal South Miami.
In early December, Levy Kelly came up with an idea to light a Christmas tree in the Marshall Williams neighborhood, calling on James McCants and Dick Ward to help plan and carry out the project.
With budgeting needs of about $4,000, the trio quickly gained support of over half the amount needed with CRA funding of just over $1,700 and a $1,100 contribution from Baptist Hospital.
Thoughtful citizens including the Mayor and City Commissioners chipped in to defray the balance to purchase a suitable tree, lights, wiring and a connection box.
Doug Baker fashioned a heavy-duty tree stand and volunteers watered the tree nightly after its erection.
Two days before a planned Dec. 19 treelighting, installation and decoration chores were underway with the Public Works Dept. adding a large wreath and Recreation Dept. putting up staging and bleachers for the event.
On the day of the show, Kevin Winkler, CEO of North Cut Tree Inc. brought 75 Christmas trees for distribution to neighborhood residents. All were gone by 6 p.m., along with 300 cupcakes donated by Archie Coats and bags filled with nuts and fruits, donated by the Police Dept.
Over 300 residents joined for a 7:30 p.m. tree lighting program, opened by Vice Mayor Walter Harris who signaled Kelly to throw a switch and light the tree. Dr. Joyce Price emceed a program with a professional touch, leading a Christmas carols with children singing “Jingle Bells” at stage front to conclude the neighborhood’s special evening. Said Kelly:
“We’re looking forward to even a better event next. year!”