FPL transforms Bradenton veteran's home into winter wonderland

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The holidays are a little brighter for one Manatee County family. Their entire house is now covered in more than 1,000 twinkling lights, and it was a complete surprise for the Army veteran and his two daughters.

Everyone was in a festive mood Monday as about 25 volunteers with Florida Power & Light spent nearly two hours transforming the outside of a Bradenton home into a holiday wonderland.

“As you can see here we’ve installed thousands of LED electrical lights that are energy saving,” said Bryan Swindell with FPL.

Strings of lights were put up around the house, around the light pole, even in the palm tree with a little help from a bucket truck.

The house belongs to the Landis Family. The power company teamed up with Goodwill Industries to select Army Sgt. Chris Landis for the free decoration makeover.

“The really neat thing about Chris is every job he’s had since he left the military is to help other veterans,” Margie Genter with Goodwill Industries Manasota said. “But Chris is a disabled vet, it’s a service connective disability and it results in a chronic pain condition so Chris should not be up on ladders decorating.”

Chris’ wife Jenni was in on the surprise, and it was a tough secret to keep.

“I was so excited, I kept it from him and the girls for almost two months now,” she said. “He has no idea, I know he doesn’t because he can’t keep a secret for anything, so if he knew he would have already talked about to everybody.”

As soon as the sun started to set, Chris and the girls got home. The 36-year-old veteran was beaming as he took in the dazzling display. Then organizers explained what was going on.

The family also got the added surprise of $1,500 in gift cards, some gadgets to make their home more energy efficient, and presents for the 9-year-old Izzi and 11-year-old Gabi.

Chris and Jenni say they are so grateful. It’s definitely a December this family won’t forget.

“I just wasn’t expecting it, I’m usually involved in doing this for other people, and it’s nice but it’s different because I’m usually on the giving end and not the receiving end,” Chris said.

FPL has been surprising Sunshine State veterans with energy efficient holiday light displays for about a decade.

Crews will also be back after the holidays to take everything down.