4It all started with a post by Wendy Lewis on the Nextdoor Old Northeast website:

“My amazing husband is celebrating 20 years of active duty in the United States Marine Corps this Sunday [May 29]. The kids and I have made some posters to place in our yard to thank him for being a great husband, marine, and father – and I thought… well, maybe other people might want to thank him, too. If you’d like to contribute to the yard art, or just stop by and say hi, my address is… I’ll be waking up early on Sunday to set it all up, but you’re welcome to come by anytime! He’s a very humble guy, so this’ll be some celebration of 20 years and counting.  🙂

It was a hit! Wendy had 18 replies immediately to her post. And tons of neighbors and even strangers walking dogs stopped by on Sunday to look at the posters and decorations and to congratulate Wendy’s husband, Lt. Col. Lance Lewis. And, he was surprised – truly.

Wendy and Lance and their children Logan, Savannah and Zoe

Wendy and Lance and their children Logan, Savannah and Zoe

While Lance was soundly sleeping, a good crowd of neighbors and friends gathered in the Lewis front yard around midnight to decorate. According to neighbor, Sharon Kantner, this involved wrapping crepe paper around the palm trees and front porch columns, and filling the yard with posters produced by the Lewis kids and others.

Sunday morning, Lance heard Emmett the dog barking, looked out the window, and saw Wendy talking with neighbors and more barking dogs. He walked outside to see what was happening and “saw the display in full glory! I was really surprised – there were streamers in the palm trees and all those posters and signs – it was really cool! All morning people were coming by!”

Luckily, Lance is a sound sleeper and the bedroom is in the back. And luckily, our photographer got up early to catch the perfect shot before the big rainstorm in the middle of the day! “I don’t know when the kids did all those posters,” Lance mused, but Wendy and Sharon explained that they worked on them while Lance was at work. There are three kids in the Lewis family: Logan (10), Savannah (8), and Zoe (5).

Thank you handshake from a neighbor

Thank you handshake from a neighbor

Lance ‘works’ at Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Just a few years ago, the family was living in Washington D.C. when he got orders for his new assignment at MacDill. As is typical in the military, they had one month to find a new home and move. Wendy and Lance flew down to Tampa and started looking there – maybe a rental they thought. Then, serendipitously, Wendy saw an ad for a rental in St. Petersburg and they discovered a whole new world – the Old Northeast. “This is it!” Those were the words of Wendy – echoed by many residents who found the ONE and never plan to leave. They drove around the Old Northeast and even stopped at an open house and talked with a realtor there. The rest is history. “The magic and the charm of the Old Northeast captivated us,” Lance explains. Maybe they will never move again. Semper Fi!

by Linda Dobbs
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