The Berea Chamber of Commerce conducted it first home decorating contest this year. City residents were encouraged to enter their outdoor displays in one of three categories: traditional, animated and Griswold.
The traditional category involved the use of holiday colors, lights and themes; animated displays involved the use of elements with moving parts and may include the use of multimedia; and the Griswold category was the “extreme use of lights.”
Maudie Neeley, at 502 W. Jefferson Street, was the winner of the “Traditional Christmas” category. She said Christmas is her “favorite time of the year.”
She has been decorating her home for the past 50 years, and even won the distinction of “Best Decorated Home” in the late 1980s when the $100 prize was taken off her electric bill, she said. Some of her decorations are 50 years old.
Neeley is a caretaker for special-needs children, so she decorates to make the holidays extra special for them, she said.
“They’re my life,” Neeley said. “They’re probably the only kids in the world that have their own Christmas trees in their rooms.”
Neeley’s granddaughter, Amy French, said family members get together each year to help decorate, which usually takes around four to five days.
In the “Traditional Christmas” category, Neeley’s house features red bows, white lights, Santa’s reindeer, several blow-up decorations and a large wreath that a visitor could walk through to reach the front door. There are even eight Christmas trees decorated inside the home.
“She adds something new each year,” French said.
Best ‛Animated Christmas’
Tony and Kim Lamb, at 105 Holly Hill Drive, were the winners in the “Animated Christmas” category.
Last year, the Lambs set out the day after Christmas to buy up as many discounted lights as possible, Kim said.
After watching various YouTube videos of lights displays coordinated to music, Tony was determined to create the same kind of display for his home, his wife said.
The Lamb’s lights flash along to not only traditional Christmas music, but contemporary music as well, such as “Sail” by Awolnation.
The Lambs purchased the songs, which visitors can listen to on their car stereos at 106.5 via an FM transmitter. Tony said he will change up the playlist periodically.
Tony handmade nearly every decoration in the display, including two towering 9-foot Nutcrackers on the front porch.
Santa Claus himself can be seen hanging out by one of the second-floor windows.
The Lambs are accepting food donations for the Berea Food Bank.
Another entry in the “Animated Christmas” category was the house of Nola and Gary Newman at 348 Opossum Kingdom Road.
The family has been adding to their Christmas light collection over the past three to four years, Nola said.
The Newman’s lights are coordinated to flash along with a variety of traditional Christmas carols.
Gary said his favorite thing about the lights display is seeing people slow down, roll down their car windows to just sit and watch for a while.
The Newmans plan to include a machine that creates the illusion of snow falling on their home.