A new Cumberland City Christmas tradition was threatened this year with the passing of longtime optometrist and Houston County Commissioner Dr. Donnie Lewis. The family's home was known for its elaborate Christmas light display, and this year, his children said it was their turn to keep that great tradition alive.
"Dad was a true selfless individual, and he cared about everyone else in the world more than himself," said son Steven Lewis. "Anything he did, it was usually for the benefit of others, and this was no different."
Donnie Lewis always viewed his yearly light display as an ambitious work of art. His canvas was the 3 acres of land in front of his home. And his brush was 120,000 LED lights set to music from a radio transmitter.
"He was in this house living by himself," said Steven Lewis. "He didn't need 120,000 lights to entertain him. He did it for the community, and it really was a hit."
Flipping the switch last year with his children, Steven, Lindsey, and Lauren, was the last time the family could turn on the lights together.
Last January, Lewis' car collided into a propane tanker truck in Erin. The other driver wasn't hurt, but Lewis was killed in the crash.
With Christmas approaching, Lewis' family wondered if they could even attempt the complicated display their father built for the past seven years. They knew what Lewis would've wanted them to.
"We've gotten so much correspondence from folks," said Steven Lewis. "They were just so elated when they saw us out there setting the Christmas lights up, because they thought what'd become a Christmas tradition was gone, and they were so glad to see it back."
Now, for hours every night, the dark on State Route 13 is lit up in blue, green and red.
Whether working as optometrist, commissioner or artist, a family says their father just lived to serve people, and they're so proud to watch that continue just out the window.
"It just took me back to the time of being in the yard with him," said Steven Lewis. "This was our way of honoring his memory. He was really smiling down on us when we were doing this. To hear people say they're bringing their kids and their grandkids, and it's part of their Christmas tradition, it's neat to be a part of that. It's neat to be a part of people's memories, and bring that positivity. That's what Dad was good at."
The lights will be running every night between now and New Years Day from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at 10865 State Route 13 in Cumberland City.
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