SPRING HILL — The ninth annual Angels on High lights up at 6:30 p.m. tonight on the grounds of the Spring Hill Community Association, and, as always, quite a number of people with angel-like qualities are helping to make it happen.
The free event, which runs nightly till 9 p.m. through Sunday at 1202 Kenlake Ave., will feature 47 angel replicas strung among the site's treetops. Each will glitter with tiny snowlike lights, the angels handmade by volunteers who want to share community spirit in a unique way.
The angel-makers range from civic clubs, local businesses and artists to individuals who just want to shine a light on Spring Hill as a good place to live, invest in commerce or visit.
Nanette Asbury and her father, Victor DiCristofalo, are among them. The duo is hanging an angel for the third time, focusing on this year's project theme, "Imagine Peace."
Asbury is the artist, a pewter worker, painter and owner of the Spirit of the Hand gallery in the Coastal Way shopping center on Cortez Boulevard. Her father is the carpenter, following his daughter's sketches for the plywood cutout angel, adding appropriate hangers and necessary attachments, including an earth-resembling globe to tie in with the theme, and painting on primer.
Asbury described the entry.
"The Earth is under (the angel's) hands," she said. "She's looking up at what the world could be like if everyone had peace. So it sort of has a message."
Asbury agreed to participate at the request of Cara Cooper, office manager for the Spring Hill Community Association, who knew Asbury as an artist.
Cooper also enlisted Beverly Reso, office manager of the Ackley Dental Group on Pinehurst Drive and a nearby resident of the association grounds who previously didn't know the organization or the angel project existed. Five years ago, Reso learned of it.
"We got involved because we saw what fun it was," Reso said of the 18 women who are employed at the dental business and have since created an angel annually. "We make it a team effort in our office," she said. "We have a lot of creativity in our office."
Reso explained that someone comes up with an idea, always related to dental — one year their angel smiled with braces on her teeth. Other volunteers paint, add sparkles or attach accouterments that will entice visitors to vote for Ackley's entry as the best by a business.
Other awards — plaques or certificates — are offered for the most artistic angel entries by schools, organizations and clubs, selected by votes from visitors to the event.
A number of volunteers help stage the event by hanging lights, directing and answering questions of visitors along the pathways, and directing parking in the lot that offers some 100 slots. Since visitors come and go, parking accommodations have not been a problem, said Cooper. A donation of $1 per vehicle is requested.
That income, and more from vendors selling refreshments such as cocoa, coffee and sweets, benefits various charities: Devereux Kids, local arm of a statewide prevention/diversion program for children and families; Barney's Kids, a Spring Hill Kiwanis Club endeavor providing school supplies for needy children, and a new higher education scholarship to be offered by the Spring Hill Community Association.
While the initial aim of Angels on High was to promote community involvement and pride, Cooper said, the main beneficiaries have become the charities.
Even as it approaches a decade since the first event, Angels on High still focuses on highlighting community cohesiveness, holiday celebration and help for those in need, she said.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.