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Today is January 22, 2021

The Lewis family

Turning lights into joy for over 30 years

By Steven Ward

The Lewis family

Evelyn Lewis was just looking for a place with Christmas lights that she could visit with her nieces.

“We would drive around every year, about 50 to 75 miles around to look at Christmas lights. But we didn’t see anything worth a dang. We could just as well drive down our own street and see lights that were just as good,” Evelyn, 83, said recently.

And that’s when Evelyn and her sisters and other family members started putting up their own Christmas lights at their Purvis home.

“It just grew from there. Each year, we just put more and more lights up,” Evelyn said laughing.

That was in 1989. Today, more than 30 years later, the Lewis family continues to adorn their home, expansive garden, trees and land with shiny and sparkly lights and erect cut out wood displays to create a Christmas wonderland in Purvis that visitors come from all over to witness.

That first year, the family put up about 5,000 lights. That number grew to nearly 200,000 lights and more than 300 wood cutouts.

The Lewis family are longtime members of the Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association. That power has been powering up their famous Christmas display since its inception in the 1980s.

“For years the Lewis family has brought tremendous joy and happiness to our area through their Christmas light display,” said Randy Wallace, Pearl River Valley Electric general manager. “The work they put into their display makes us all proud to call south Mississippi home, and we are extremely honored to play a part in their yearly tradition.”

That tradition carries on in 2020 — COVID-19 or not.

“This year we are asking visitors to wear masks and social distance,” said Deborah Lewis, 47, Evelyn’s niece.

Each Lewis family member has a certain job each year in putting on the massive Christmas display.

Barbara Lewis, Deborah’s mother, cuts out the wood displays. The cutouts were painted by Barbara, Deborah and Deborah’s late father, Frank Lewis.

Evelyn, a master gardener, is also an artist and the main person who is responsible for all the detail work on the displays.

Barbara created the electrical layout and wiring.

Evelyn and her sister Linda Roberts, 74, put up all the lights on their 2-acre spread.

“It takes about two weeks to get all the lights up,” Evelyn said.

Linda’s husband, AM Roberts, 81 and son, Kris Roberts, 47, help with the wood displays that go on the roof.

The family also has a hot chocolate station on the backyard porch and an area where they sell family-made arts and crafts to help pay for each year’s light extravaganza.

“During the time the lights are on it takes all of us to keep an eye on everything. I man the shop that we have set up on the carport each year while Evelyn and Kris handle the hot chocolate stand. Linda usually greets the visitors as they come in and explains the rules to them. Barbara is normally on the front porch answering questions people normally have,” Deborah said.

The wood cutouts feature every possible Christmas scene you can imagine: Santa and his reindeer, Santa and his elves, Santa and Mrs. Santa Claus, The 12 Days of Christmas, snowmen, the traditional Christmas story, the Little Drummer Boy, carolers, angels, the North Pole, a “Toyland Express” and a Christmas list are just some of what visitors will experience.

The light display is something special.

“Parents will take their children through the path three or four times,” Evelyn said.

Deborah said there are plenty of times children will start crying when their parents say it’s time to go.

“They just don’t want to leave,” she said.

The preparation each year takes a lot of time and hard work.

“For a lot of families, this is how they start their holiday season. We do it because so many people enjoy it. The kids get so excited. It becomes a magical place,” Evelyn said.

 

If you go

Nov. 26 to Dec. 25, 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Dec. 26 to Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.

280 White Chapel Road, Purvis, MS 39475

For more information, call 601-466-3679, email lewislightsandcrafts@gmail.com or visit the family’s Facebook page at Lewis Lights & Crafts.

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