Decking the community: Light display contests take over county Christmas celebrations
CHARLES TOWN — Christmas in 2020 needed a bit of pizzazz, as the COVID-19 Pandemic continued to cause cancellations of favorite activities, such as parades, breakfasts with Santa, and holiday concerts. To create something unique that county residents could do while socially distancing, leaders in the county’s municipalities have encouraged residents to light up their homes for the holidays.
Those in Charles Town and Ranson stepped up to the challenge, allowing organizers of the Light the Cities campaign to create a google map highlighting the locations of the more than 130 participating homes and businesses decked out in lights.
Those looking to enjoy an overload of “Griswold-esque” decorations can find the map on the Charles Town & Ranson Lights Facebook page. In addition to the map, there is an address specific list available on the page, as well.
Homes and businesses in both towns and the outlying neighborhoods offer a range from modest and traditional white lights and greenery, to multicolor spectacular outlines and inflatable lawn ornaments, to light shows enhanced with music.
Each location was provided a specific number so that those viewing can vote for their favorites. It is suggested that travelers go with a pen and notebook so they can keep track of their favorites by number, which they can then use to complete a voter form, available via the online venue. Paper forms may be picked up at Charles Town City Hall during normal business hours.
Top votes will be counted for Best Griswold, Most Traditional, Best Light Show and the top three overall in Charles Town and the top three overall in Ranson. Lights may be voted on through Dec. 18. Those participating will keep their lights on to at least 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends.
During the Shepherdstown Town Council meeting on Tuesday night, a similar concept was announced by council member Jenny Haynes, who is the Christmas in Shepherdstown chairperson. The First Annual Deck the Community House Decoration Contest will include all residents within the 25443 zip code, whose home decorations can be voted to win in four different categories: The Grinch’s Pick, Best Classic/Traditional Christmas; Brightest House; and Cindy Lou’s Most Creative Christmas.
“Lights need to be turned on by Tuesday. Judging will occur from then through Dec. 20, by our panel of judges, the Grinch, Mrs. Claus and Cindy Lou Who,” Haynes said. “You may only win one category. Each category winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from any Shepherdstown business of their choice.”
The winners will be announced on the Christmas in Shepherdstown Facebook page on Dec. 23. For homes to be included in the contest, they must be registered online at https://forms.gle/dBYcdKEHGYyy1Hj77.
Community residents who want to take part in voting on Shepherdstown decorations can participate in the Shepherdstown business decoration contest. Voting on the local business with the best holiday decorations can be done throughout downtown Shepherdstown, wherever a voting box is placed at a business front. The Community Christmas Champion will receive a $100 award, and the second place business will receive a $50 award.
Expanding on their Olde Tyme Christmas festivities, residents in Bolivar and Harpers Ferry are also participating in a Christmas decoration contest, the Olde Tyme Christmas Holiday Light Tour. With having to slightly scale back the Olde Tyme Christmas festivities, to make it pandemic friendly, holding this event will help fill in the gap of having to cancel all of the Christmas concerts and performances at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.
Organizers added a driving tour to view lighted homes in Bolivar and Harpers Ferry, as such an activity would fit within the state’s safety guidelines. Voting is also taking place in Bolivar and Harpers Ferry for drivers to select their favorite homes on the light tour. More information and a link to the map can be found on the Facebook page, Olde Tyme Christmas Holiday Light Tour.
In addition to the driving tour, most of the traditional Olde Tyme Christmas activities will still be offered as part of the 50th annual event, which ends this Sunday. More information can be found at https://www.harpersferryotc.com/.