Christmas Expo arrives in Daytona Beach for first time ever

Festive displays, workshops focus of 3-day event

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas -- in July.

The Christmas Expo in Daytona Beach is giving Central Floridians and people from all over a chance to see the latest in extreme Christmas decorating for their front yards.

During the event, attendees will be able to buy life-sized Christmas displays such as snowmen, reindeer, Santa and over-the-top light ornaments. They'll also learn tricks and tips from experts as they enjoy colorful lights, music and creative Christmas decor. 

"We are here to make lifelong memories. Those houses are the ones you remember for the rest of your life. We love putting smiles on people's faces," Chuck Smith, spokesperson for the event said.

He's been in the Christmas decorating industry for four decades.

"Our goal is to make our Christmas displays even better than the year before," Smith said.

John Palmer Kells, 7, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, came to the expo with his dad.

"He had watched other people do displays, and he said, 'I want to do that,'" John Kells said. "He loves the electrical part of it. So he's out every morning, adjusting the wiring, making sure it works, getting it going for the day."

This year, attendees will see the latest trend for holiday decor: smart pixel technology.

"It's where we can control every single light that you see in that display, so any light can be any color at any time. You can be just as creative as you want," Smith said.

Creativity is what Peter Friedman and his wife, Rita Friedman, are known for in their Bartow neighborhood.

"We're planning right now for next year's lighting event, so we think about this all year long," Peter Friedman said.

The couple has been putting on colorful displays for 15 years, but three years ago, they went extreme during Christmas time. This year, it's all about getting people to dance to the beat of the music.

"This year is pure entertainment. We've got some very, very dynamic -- we call them sequences, and we choreograph the lights to dance to the music," Peter Friedman said.

The Friedmans also plan on expanding their display.

"We have about 200 more props that we're gonna be adding this year," Rita Friedman said.

They weren't just at the Christmas Expo to browse and shop, they're also taking advantage of the classes and workshops offered during the three-day event.

"They have all these different classes on cutting-edge technology so we can bring a fresh approach to our neighborhood," Rita Friedman said. 

There are more than 100 classes of workshops during the three days. They range from beginners to experts looking to expand their displays. Registration for the workshops is still available. 

The Christmas Expo event ends Saturday. It is open to the public. Price for admittance to the vendor hall is $10. To attend classes, you must purchase a conference pass. Information can be found at www.christmasexpo.com.

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