Tampa Tribune: New tree, company bring Center Place tradition to life

BY LINDA CHION KENNEY
Special Correspondent
Published: December 17, 2014

Motorists traveling Parsons Avenue from Lumsden Road to Brandon Boulevard won’t be hard-pressed to see the town Christmas tree floating in the lake outside the Sandy Rodriguez Center, home to both the Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association and the Brandon Regional Library.

But they might be hard-pressed not to take a look twice if they’ve been a faithful follower of the tree in years past.

This year, “there’s a big change,” said Larry Cox, of the family-owned Cox Electric business in Brandon, which for more than 20 years has donated the tree, lights and labor for the project. “When you see the tree at night you’re going to see it even more, just how much of a change there is.”

That’s because the tree is newly constructed, with upgraded lights and recyclable materials that give life to the 24-foot structure, including its lighted star on top. According to Cox, credit goes to Adriano Perez, who has been working for Cox Electric for four years.

“He’s the one who said, ‘Let’s try to make this thing different, more up-to-date, a little more modernized,’ ” Cox said. “All the lights are LED. We’re catching up with the times.”

For his part, Perez said he was happy to work for a company that gives back to the community in such a grand way.

“I used to work in Times Square in New York City, dropping the (New Year’s Eve) ball and all that,” Perez said. “This is a really nice thing that they do for the community.”

Lisa Rodriguez, for whose husband the center is named, is a long-time Center Place supporter and now serves as its marketing director.

“It’s a community service project for Cox Electric, a donation to Center Place,” Rodriguez said about the town Christmas tree. “They’re family owned and operated and I think the world of them. We’re lucky to have them in our community.”

The decision for his family and its business to donate the tree and tend to its setup and electrical needs was, essentially, a no-brainer to Cox.

“The reason I got involved in it originally is because my children were going to Center Place for art lessons and Center Place, what it does, is a good thing for the community,” Cox said. “This is some way we can support them.”

Click to view original article in Tampa Tribune/Brandon News