An old favorite and some impressive newcomers highlight The Davis Enterprise’s annual Holiday Decorating Contest. From homes wrapped in green, red and white lights to those sporting hand-made holiday figures, Davis residents are treated to a festive fantasy that appeals to all ages.
Many homeowners who are proud of their innovative, ambitious and cleverly designed decorations nominated themselves for judging by a team of Enterprise employees, who selected winners in five categories. There were so many great decorations, the judges decided to expand the honors to include runners-up, honoring decorative efforts that fell just shy of winning in a category.
The top honor — Best Individual House — remains a distinction reserved exclusively for the most awe-inspiring of the bunch, sans any runner-up title. Cutting to the chase, your winners this year are …
David Bonillo and family — Best Individual House
4001 Nandina Place: For an index of all things Christmas, look no further than David Bonillo and his family’s front yard tucked at the end of a cul-de-sac in South Davis. It’s all there: Santa being pulled in his iconic sleigh, grinning snowmen, giant candy canes, toy soldiers, the chimney, the wreath and the gleaming tree.
All of the elements are lined with sparkling white lights, evocative of a snow-covered winter scene. Someone ought to inform the conductor of the large train on Bonillo’s lawn (complete with smoke!) that he didn’t arrive at Santa’s North Pole, but at the best replica of it that Davis has to offer.
The prestige of the Best Individual House honor should be a nice welcome back for the Bonillo family, who did not compete last year, but who did receive this same accolade in 2011. The judging panel was unanimous in selecting this home for the award, and all cited its strikingly rich depiction of the holidays.
The McElligott family — Best Theme
3704 Del Valle Place: Snowflakes, hanging icicles and generally chilly weather are typically what represent Christmas, and so the McElligott family’s theme of Santa in the sun-drenched Bahamas provides viewers a nice change of pace. The judges were enamored with the inflated Santas, one clothed in a swimsuit and the other resting in a hammock between two palm trees. The theme is furthered by the use of lights to create a blue sea and a white bed of sand.
“We like to think it helps to warm up the cold foggy nights that are so common in December,” the homeowners said in their contest submission.
For their imaginative recreation of a fireplace in a living room-like setting, Jane, Rob and Emma Lautz at 3033 Campbell Place were hotly debated runners-up for the Best Theme prize. These first-time entrants nearly gave their seasoned competitors a run for their money by bringing the warm, cozy feeling of Christmas Eve outdoors.
Murre Traverso and family — Best Use of Space
1731 El Pescador Court: Dynamic is a fitting descriptor of the decorative landscape created by the Traverso family. The inflatable toys and Santas that are dispersed across a small space of lawn remained in movement: peeking out of presents, twirling on carousels and swaying back and forth on teeter-totters.
A flying Santa and reindeer is suspended above the garage, and hangs up in the night sky. On the other half of the house’s roof, a star radiates from a great height. The judges found the Traversos’ to be one of the more memorable houses, and said it’s worth leaving the warmth of the car to examine the finer details of the display.
The judging group wanted to give kudos to AJ Rinaldi and family at 4220 Frontera Drive, as the outlines of colorful lights on each of the house’s crevices and carefully curated eye-catching inflatables in the front yard made the display a good recipient for the Best Use of Space runner-up.
Derrick and Gayna Bang — Kids’ Favorite
4350 Cowell Blvd.: Enterprise film critic Derrick Bang, a longtime participant in this contest, covers every inch of his house’s exterior (and some visible interior) with child-friendly holiday decor. Bang’s scrolling electronic sign invites passers-by to step out of their vehicles and get a closer look at the all of the different aspects.
And given the number of homemade cutouts that adorn the home — from childhood favorites like the “Peanuts” gang to “Despicable Me’s” minions — there’s plenty of reason for kids and adults alike to more closely inspect each hand-crafted piece of the Bangs’ festive display.
Janet Hanstad and family at 2819 Seine Ave. was recognized by the voting committee as runner-up for her design’s appeal to youths. As one of the judges pointed out, this display seemed keenly interested in having its various decorative elements “right at a kid’s eye level.” This is the family’s first entry, and it’s one worthy of viewing.
Jim and Kristy Powell — Best Hand-made
2725 Henri Court: The Powell family are contest veterans, and took home the Best Individual House prize for standing out among a holistically cheerful and brightly lit Henri Court in 2012. Since then, Henri Court — once referred to as Candy Cane Court — has relinquished its commitment to a court-wide decorating effort. But the Powells have continued to design a stunning display regardless, and this year once more impressed The Enterprise judges with their assortment of DIY decorations.
Intricately detailed cutouts of elves and presents surround a well-lit scene on the house’s lawn, which features a painted Santa’s Toy Shop and two toy soldiers that are nearly larger than the garage they guard.
The runner-up nod goes to Steve and Pegi Hayes at 1803 Poplar Lane, who also continued a family tradition, one that began 40 years ago. Their painted display is of Santa being towed by reindeer in his sleigh, complete with Rudolph and his signature red nose, and has been a favorite in this category for many years.
Honorable mentions (alphabetically)
The Carpenters, 5028 El Cemonte Ave.
Carson Wilcox and family, 716 Marina Circle
Diane Pierzinsky and family, 1415 Madrone Lane
Karen Ashby and family, 825 Christie Court
Maya Lindeman and family, 2732 Calder Court
Rick Stromberg and family, 4400 Redbud Place
— Reach Brett Johnson at email@example.com or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett