Entertainment And News

Man Has Spelled Out ‘Hi Kevin’ In Christmas Lights For 20 Years To Honor His Neighbor

Photo: Facebook
"Hi Kevin" lights, Mike Witmer

For the last 20 years, Mike Witmer has had his own Christmas tradition that he has honored every year since he found out his 11-year-old neighbor was sick.

Kevin, in the Fall of 2002, was diagnosed with cancer and though he went into remission, the illness eventually came back far more aggressively, taking his life in 2010 — but the tradition lived on.

Every winter, Mike Witmer spells out 'Hi Kevin' with his Christmas lights to honor his late neighbor.

This year, on the 20th anniversary of the tradition, Witmer decided to share with the world the history of his tradition and told Kevin’s story about what happened after his diagnosis in 2002.

“On Dec. 23rd the doctors told him he’d be well enough to spend Christmas at home,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “After hearing this wonderful news, I told his parents to swing through my court on their way home.”

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“Where you see ‘Merry & Bright’ in this year's display, I wrote ‘Get well Kevin.’”

Witmer says that Kevin and his family loved the sign, and that, after reading it, Kevin asked his mother “Do you think Mr. Witmer will put my name in lights every year?” and so, the tradition was born.

“I painted ‘Hi Kevin’ on a scrap piece of wood and each year I would put it in a different spot in my display, so it was a ‘where’s Waldo’ kind of game on his first visit each year,” he explained.

Witmer said that when Kevin's cancer went into remission, the game continued, the tradition continued to live on, and Kevin and his family would drop by every year to see where he would place the sign next.

One year, he said that he had a working Ferris wheel up for decoration and placed the “Hi” on the seat of one pod and “Kevin” on another, so it wouldn’t always be visible.

“That year the family pulls up and he didn’t see his name, I was told he got out of the car and was like ‘HEY….?’” Witmer explains. “About that time the Ferris wheel came back around and he saw his name, he smiled and got back into the family’s car.”

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Unfortunately, Kevin’s cancer came back and he passed away in June 2010.

Kevin had just finished up his freshman year of college at the University of Maryland when he came home and found out that his cancer had returned and was much more aggressive this time around.

“His parents asked me to speak at his funeral. I talked about my special connection and how much I enjoyed putting Kevin’s name in my light display,” he wrote. “I told everyone to come by that year and the ‘Hi Kevin’ would be bigger so he can see it from heaven.”

Even now, Witmer has continued to put Kevin’s name in his display every year and shared a separate, smaller story about someone he knew who had a loved one named Kevin.

“A few years back an old high school friend reached out to me and asked me about the Hi Kevin,” he wrote. 

“I told him the above story and he proceeded to tell me that he had a loved one named Kevin that was killed by a drunk driver and asked if it would be ok if he and his family took my Hi Kevin to be saying hi to their Kevin, of course, I said YES!”

Witmer’s story is one that he hoped would help others feel good, and wrote that “Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that end up meaning the most.”

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.