After a thief (or thieves) stole several thousands of dollars worth of copper wiring from Lewis Lights last holiday season, the Lewis family was unsure whether they’d ever bring their well-known Christmas display back to Purvis.
But the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas couldn’t stop the holiday cheer for long, as the family – with the help of a few friends – is putting the lights back on White Chapel Road this year for the 29th season starting at 5:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
“There’s a lot of people that like it,” said Evelyn Lewis, one of seven children in the family. “A lot of children would be disappointed, and a lot of other people would be disappointed if we didn’t bring it back. But we were able to do it, so we jumped in there and got it done.”
After the family discovered the wire had been stolen in early January, a couple of neighbors came and helped them gather the rest of the wiring for the display. Other family members then helped get the lights back up and ready to go for this year.
“I have my sister, and her son and her grandson – they helped us,” Evelyn said. “And then mostly it’s been me and my sister, Barbara, and my niece, Deborah. We’ve done it so much that we just know what to do.
“And then we had several people that were very generous and helped us with what we were going to have to buy. We had to buy wiring and the receptacles to put the stuff in, because a lot of that was stolen. So we had some people who helped us with that, and we decided that if people thought that much of it, that we’d do our best to get it done again.”
Frank Lewis, Evelyn’s father, started the lights and decorations in 1989. What originally started as an attraction for the White Chapel Road neighborhood has grown to approximately 200,000 lights and more than 300 pieces of handcrafted wooden displays.
An estimated 35,000 people stop by each holiday to see the display, which also features a craft shop with hand-made items, hot chocolate and the occasional baked goods in its 2.5-acre walking layout.
“The rain has slowed us up for the past week,” Evelyn said. “We’d have already had everything up and ready to turn the lights on if it hadn’t rained on us.
“But you can’t get out and work with electricity in the rain, so we had to find something else to do out of the rain.”
Lewis Lights & Crafts is located at 280 White Chapel Road in Purvis. Admission is free, but a basket is available on site for individuals who wish to donate any amount.
Although the display is open to the public, the Lewis family has a few rules in place for safety reasons: no running, no touching the lights, no veering outside the lighted paths and no smoking.
For more information, call (601) 794-6319 or visit the Lewis Lights & Crafts Facebook page.