To get into the Christmas spirit, many people climb into their vehicles and drive through neighborhoods, stopping at homes with large and unique holiday displays.
In recent years, thousands have been drawn to the home of John and Kay Neuman, on the north side of Brooksville, which featured more than 80,000 lights, plus ornaments and displays, on their 2 1/2 acres. Known as Candy Cane Acres, it was one of the largest displays on the North Suncoast.
The bad news: There will be no display at the residence this year.
The good news: Candy Cane Acres has taken up residence at the Hernando County Fairgrounds. Starting today, visitors will be able to view the display — and much more — each weekend through the end of December.
"It is just amazing," said Sandra Nicholson, president of the Hernando County Fair Association. "There is just so much stuff."
The collection includes displays not found in local stores, much of it constructed by the Neumans, including a 6-foot-tall carousel with horses; a rotating Ferris wheel; a 25-foot-long, six-piece train, and an 8-foot angel whose wings move.
"I built about 80 percent of it," John Neuman said.
He said he would build the displays over the years, and his wife, Kay, would decorate. The alternative, he said, was to spend a lot of money.
"It's very expensive to buy, so I did it myself. ... I taught myself to weld."
Nicholson said that earlier this year the fair board considered offering a Christmas event for the community but found it would cost nearly $25,000.
Then, shortly after that, the board learned that the Neumans were interested in selling their enormous Christmas collection.
"The timing was weird," Nicholson admits.
Originally planned to be a drive-through light display, the event is now a walk-through display and Christmas village. It combines the fair association's and the Neumans' collections. The display has approximately 100,000 lights that will dance to Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music, made possible with an MP3 player hooked up to three controller boxes.
The village will include Santa's workshop, carolers and "Florida-style" sleigh rides. There also will be a bubble machine that will spit out "Florida snow."
Inside the Jackson Building will be Mrs. Claus' kitchen, a parade of trees, children's games and photos with Santa. There will also be refreshments available, such as hot chocolate, eggnog and soda, as well as fudge and cookies.
With just a handful of volunteers, Nicholson said putting the event together has been a lot of work, but everything seems to be coming together. The Neumans, she said, have helped out, teaching the volunteers how to put everything together.
"We couldn't have done it without them," Nicholson said.
Nicholson said volunteers are always appreciated and, after the holidays, donations of additional decorations will be welcome.
"This (event) is something we definitely want to add on to every year," she said.
As for the Neumans, the transition is somewhat bittersweet.
"In a way, it's sad to see it go," John Neuman said. "But we're extremely happy it will still be in the area."