July Christmas celebration in Iona after Hurricane Ian ripped the holiday away in 2022

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Christmas may be more than 170 days away, but that can’t stop a neighborhood in Iona from decking the halls or feeling jolly.

Hurricane Ian battered the families living on Siesta Pines Court in Iona more than nine months ago. Losing so much to the storm, residents refused to yield. Instead, they preserved and rebuilt their neighborhood.

The Alongi family has always loved Christmas.

“We do tons and tons of lights,” said Christine Alongi. “It’s good to have all the family together and the decorations and the dinner and everything.”

Their neighborhood in Iona has, too.

“Everybody had their blow-up decorations…it really was like the Griswolds over here,” said Taitum Alongi.

Although, when Hurricane Ian hit in late September, it took all of that away.

“We had to break through a hole in the wall to get to the apartment upstairs,” said Taitum.

“We all have PTSD from it. We had five feet of water in the house,” said Christine.

Similar to many others in Southwest Florida, the Alongi family lost everything.

“We had nothing. I didn’t even have underwear,” said Taitum.

“All our memorabilia and everything for the last 50 some years, so it was pretty sad,” said Christine.

With both their homes unlivable, there was no time to worry about Christmas in 2022.

“We didn’t even do Christmas at all. It was just another day,” said Christine.

“It was. It was tough not being able to do the normal. It wasn’t like a regular season. Sad,” said Taitum.

Since Christine and her husband have finally been able to move back into their home, she has figured there was no time like the present to celebrate, so Christmas in July will have to do.

“Lights are gonna go up. There’s gonna be a lot of work on the street. Dad is going to die from the heat, but it’ll be OK,” said Taitum.

“It’ll just make everybody happy. Something good can finally come out of all this,” said Christine.

They said they’re not doing presents because the greatest gift of all will be the time they spend celebrating together.

“It’s just everybody getting together having dinner. It’s a good old-fashioned Christmas,” said Christine.

Many of the family’s neighbors have also started setting up their decorations. Even the local Love Boat Ice Cream shop has put up a tree. They’re hoping it will spread throughout the entire Iona area.

They will officially celebrate the holiday on July 25.

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