I was born in a Central Florida town named Lakeland. I’ve lived in various other areas of Florida as well as in other states. I lived in New York for a few years. I spent a few summers in Western Pennsylvania. I’ve spent numerous months in numerous parts of Ontario, Canada. Quite by accident, I spent nearly a month in a small town in Mississippi. I’ve hung out quite a bit in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. And currently I’m back in Lakeland.
As you’ve probably guessed by the name, my hometown is aptly named Lakeland because of its many lakes. We have thirty-eight named lakes, to be exact, as well as several smaller unnamed lakes which are actually just phosphate mine pits that have filled with water.
Anyway, when I was little, the most exciting thing that happened here every year was when the city would put the Christmas trees in the middle of the lakes. Sometimes, we might be driving somewhere and would get to see the workers assembling the trees and floating them out to the middle. I always found that so thrilling. Even now, when I drive by a lake at night and see the Christmas tree in the middle with the reflection showcasing the colors, it brings back a nostalgia that makes me smile.
Also while I was growing up, our downtown area was not very nice. A lot of vagrants and panhandlers occupied the park in the center of town, and many of the stores had closed and moved to the mall. Then, a couple of decades ago, Lakeland revamped its downtown area. It cleaned up the park, many of the shops reopened, and it was restored to its original glory. Now, our downtown is called “Historical Downtown Lakeland.”
Upon this renovation, the city started adding a holiday light show to the park and the surrounding area. We have carolers that sing there until 10:00 every night during December, and if you walk through the park, it transports you back to a time long ago when life was simpler. As such, I just wanted to share with you some photos from my city’s downtown. I took these photos a few days ago, so I don’t believe the city has finished decorating yet.
Time to talk: What is your city famous for? How does your city decorate for the holidays? Do you decorate the outside of your house?