07 November 2011
The Ledger

Turns out, there is a person who decides when the timing is right for Christmas decorations, and he’s a grizzly, ball cap-wearing painter.

“I’m the window guy,” said Ray Cuzzone.

The 73-year-old Lakeland painter has spent the last 35 years painting bug-eyed reindeer, smiling Santas and bright red ribbons on Polk County storefronts. And with more than 40 clients to serve each year, he starts prying open his paint cans in late October.

A nomadic artist, Cuzzone said the holiday season has become essential to his livelihood, one constant among his usual smattering of random commercial jobs. Over a six-week span, he brings in the bulk of his annual earnings, he said.

His methods are straightforward. Using the bed of his pick-up truck as a paint station, Cuzzone dips his brushes into all sorts of holiday reds and greens — then colors in simple sketches he pre-draws on the window glass.

The flourish of hands reveal his bouncy self-confidence. Only partially hidden in stubble, he sports an infectious grin. The smile only broadens at mention of the timing of his work. Pausing to light a cigarette, he mused for a moment.

“People say to me all the time, ‘But it ain’t even Halloween yet! It ain’t Thanksgiving yet!’ ” he exclaimed. “You know when it’s early enough? October 1. Who cares?”

Read the rest of the story at The Ledger.

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posted by Chase at 5:02 PM |