Riverview man spreads joy by lighting up Tampa's downtown

Have you caught the amazing light display in downtown Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park yet? Over 500,000 lights are dancing to the beat of popular Christmas songs, and one Riverview man is behind it all.    

Michael Richard's passion for holiday lights began at age 13. 

"I came home from school early and I was up on the roof. My mom came home, didn't realize where I was. She got all scared and worried. She was a little mad about that," he recalled.

From then on, he was hooked, and his love of lights only grew over time. Michael's home light display -- featuring over 700,000 bulbs -- attracted national attention.

A private group of businesses called the Tampa Downtown Partnership took notice. They hired Michael to light up downtown's Curtis Hixon Park for the holidays.

"I was excited and said, ‘Absolutely.’ Came down here and did a walk through and had a 100 ideas," he continued. 

He designed the 500,000-light display with his target audience in mind. "I always measure success in the kids. It’s all about the kids enjoying it since it's so magical to them."

Michael says that although displays have gotten much more technical through the years, the reason for putting up lights will never change. 

"The biggest thing about lights is just spreading Christmas joy to everyone out there. It's almost like, ‘How do you give everyone out there a present?’ You couldn't do that from a financial standpoint, but this is one way you can."

The show in Curtis Hixon Park is every night, every half hour, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.