UNION COUNTY — Judging is finished and winners have been announced for the 2012 Union County Recreation Department Christmas Lighting Contest.
The contest involved two categories: Elegant, which included white lights, wreaths, ribbons, flood lights, etc. and Creative, which included colored lights, inflatables, music, etc. A group of five judges selected first-, second- and third-place winners in each category. Prizes were $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place.
In the Elegant Category, the award for first place went to the home of Wayne and Sharrie Wallace at 1730 Neal Shoals Road in Union. The home was built in 1852, and the Wallaces have lived in the house for seven years. After winning first place, the Wallaces donated their winnings to the Union County Historical Society, considering the home’s historical significance. Wayne said Sharrie began decorating the inside of the house in October in preparation for their participation in the Union County Health Care Foundation Tour of Homes.
“Then we found out about this outdoor contest, and we decided to go all out,” Wayne said. “My wife has always decorated no matter what. This was a perfect fit for her.”
The home that won second place was the residence of Ricky and Carol Fernandez, located at 585 Rogerstown Road in Jonesville. Ricky said for the last 10 years, he and Carol have hosted an annual Christmas drop-in for people who have been influential in their lives, many of which are seniors, and they always seem to enjoy the decorations.
“It’s a lot of work,” Ricky laughed. “But we look forward to doing it every year. We are looking forward to next year.”
The home which won third place was that of Danny Inman and Jerry Christenbury, located at 803 E. Main St. in Union. Inman — formerly a florist in Charlotte — said the home is decorated with handmade wreaths and bows as well as white lights and garland to keep with the elegant theme.
“A lot of people see this house because everybody goes down this road,” Inman said, adding that many people have visited the home and stopped to take pictures.
Inman also said he and Christenbury had seven visitors on Thursday morning alone. They are already coming up with ideas for next year’s decorations.
In the Creative Category, the award for first place went to the home of Paul Burgess, located at 165 Woodside Drive in Lockhart. Burgess, who enters the competition annually, said he made several additions this year, including a new Santa, seesaw and rocking horse. He also mentioned that he added more outside power sources this year to accommodate some of the decorations which had been in storage for several years.
The home that won second place in the Creative Category went to the residence of Gwen and Craig Price, located at 101 Candler Drive in Buffalo. Gwen’s reason for her creative lighting display was simple: “I love Christmas!” she said.
She said decorating and cooking are her favorite things about the Christmas holidays. She said the only damper on this year’s festivities is that her regular cooking partner — her close friend I.G. Vanderford — is in the hospital.
Gwen said her display has drawn people to the dead-end road in Buffalo, pointing out that the Christmas season is the only time there is traffic there.
The Creative Category third place award went to the home of Joe Wade, located at 233 Munro St. in Union. Wade has participated in the contest for the past few years and has a large and colorful animated display.
“My mother and father always decorated years ago,” Wade said. “When they would buy something new, they would give the old decorations to me and my wife.”
He said he also began to buy decorations at a discount after the holidays. “After 40 years, you can accumulate a lot of stuff,” Wade said with a laugh.
Jessica Gallman, program director for the Union County Recreation Department, said she is thankful for everyone who entered the contest as well as the team of judges.
“I thought all the houses were decorated well,” Gallman said. “The judges had to make hard decisions at times.”
Gallman said lists of all the entrants in this year’s contest are available at the recreation department for anyone who would like to use the list as a guide for looking at Christmas lights in Union County. The list was also printed in last Saturday’s edition of The Union Daily Times.
For more information about the contest and all other recreation department activities, visit the department’s website at www.unionscrec.com.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.