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By LOGAN NEILL, Times Staff Writer
Published December 13, 2007
SPRING HILL - Thanks to the efforts of Paul Morales and Don Labbe, things were beginning to look a lot like Christmas around the Spring Hill Community Association's clubhouse Wednesday.
After hours spent putting the finishing touches on the annual Angels On High display, it was time for a brief break from the unseasonable heat.
"It's been pretty warm, but a least it's been dry," said Morales, who has helped coordinate the event for several years. "Hopefully, it'll stay that way. People don't usually come out when it's raining."
Attracting lots of visitors to Angels On High is an important goal for the community association this year. Doing so may help to breathe some needed life into a once popular holiday tradition that has been fading.
"Getting the support has been a little tougher this year," said Cara Cooper, director of the event that kicks off at 6:30 tonight at the club's Lake House facility. "We need to find a way to attract more sponsors and more people who are interested in making it as good an event as it can be."
Now in its seventh year, the free event has become a favorite holiday treat for folks yearning for an old-fashioned community gathering. Visitors from all over Central Florida walk the winding lighted path adorned with hand-painted plywood angels hanging from trees. Afterward, visitors gather in the clubhouse for refreshments and entertainment.
Over the years, the event grew to become a major fund-raising event for area nonprofit organizations such as Hospice of Hernando, Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society of Hernando County and Kiwanis Key Club, which sold baked goods and hot chocolate to visitors.
However, recent years have seen community support wane as the association's membership has grown older. Cooper said that fewer residents signed up this year to construct angels, which by association rules must be retired after three years. The 30 angels on display this year are less than half of what the event drew five years ago.
Cooper said that despite the challenges, Angels On High, which runs through Sunday, promises to be a wonderful showcase of holiday sights and sounds with live entertainment scheduled every night, kids activities, plus a nightly visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
"It's been a lot of hard work, but it's worth it," Cooper said. "To a lot of people in Hernando County, this is what the holidays are all about."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 848-1435.
IF YOU GO
The Spring Hill Community Association's seventh annual Angels On High holiday display runs from 6:30 to 9 p.m. today through Sunday on the grounds of the Lake House at 1202 Kenlake Ave., Spring Hill. Admission to the event is free. Parking is $1. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. For information, call 666-4746.
[Last modified December 12, 2007, 20:24:28]