What started as a small tradition two decades ago years ago has grown into a bright spot of kindness and holiday cheer for one Sussex County business.
Lisa and Steve Prestipino, owners of Apple Electric in Lewes, have been putting up Christmas lights and decor on their business property at John J. Williams Highway for more than 20 years now.
The spectacle of LED lights dancing to music on the short-signal radio band draws visitors each year to enjoy the sights and sounds.
Characters from “Frozen,” “Peanuts,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “The Grinch” and more greet onlookers to take a selfie and laugh with the family.
“It’s like Christmas Eve for us when those lights go on,” Steve says. “It’s our Zenith.”
For the past 10 years, the display has been a drop-off location for “Toys for Tots.” Apple Electric’s goal is to collect 1,000 unwrapped toys or bicycles for children across the area — and the need is much higher this year due to the pandemic.
“We’ve specially seen a need in Western Sussex County this year. They have been hit the hardest,” Lisa says.
Apple Electric matches each donation. The company pre-purchased several bicycles in anticipation of generous donations from across the state.
“A friend of ours started the bike match several years ago. We ran with it and continue to this day,” Steve says.
The event is responsible for hundreds of bikes each year going to children in need across the area. Steve says that some adults who received a bike as a child return each year with a bike donation of their own.
The Prestipinos, along with their four boys, began setting up the 2020 display in September. Along with a 30-foot Christmas tree that is retrimmed to a different shape each year, the family adds attractions that have been planned all year, including a new gingerbread house that required the old two-door garage to be torn down.
“Lots of labor, patience and imagination goes into it for a good cause. It feels so good to do this,” Steve says.
Apple Electric’s holiday display runs through Christmas. Patrons are encouraged to bring a toy and leave at the drop box on the side of the building and are welcome to take photos and get a closer look at the displays.