BY KRISSI HUMBARD — On Dec. 14, four residents and city employees — myself, included — gathered to judge the houses nominated for Claus Applause, the city’s long-standing holiday decorating contest.
As a kid, my family and a neighbor family would pile into a van and drive around to seek out the best Christmas light displays. I’ve loved Christmas lights ever since. I “ooh and ahh” at the light displays when traveling around the city during the holiday season. So the idea of driving around to judge the Claus Applause contest gave me a thrill.
I met Recreation Event Coordinator Cheri Everhart, long-time judge Peggy Dee, and first-time judge and city employee Saarah Abdul-Rauf at the Municipal Building, where we piled into a city vehicle and were off. Of course, Christmas music was playing as we drove around to all of the houses.
Residents can nominate their own house or a neighbor’s house. This year there were 20 houses nominated. Everhart said every year there are more and more.
We explored all five wards, stopping to take in all the decorations. There were colored lights, twinkling lights, flashing light projectors, lights set to music, inflatables of all sorts, Santa Clauses, candy canes, and wreaths galore. One of the winning houses was even topped with a flying Santa Pig.
One house in Ward 5 caught our eye. As we stopped to look at it, the resident came out, telling us he hadn’t had the chance to nominate his house. Marvin Sanchez, of 5610 29th Ave., said he has been decorating his house since he was 16. “Nobody used to do it on this street,” he said. Now, the houses surrounding his are all lit up. Sanchez said he was motivated by the movie “Deck the Halls” and that he wanted to have so many lights that you could see his house from space. He then flipped a switch and we were treated to a show: hundreds of lights blinking along to the music.
After the tour, we compared notes and picked winners while enjoying Christmas cookies.
“This was fun,” Dee said. “It’s fun every year.”
Yes, yes it was.
The 2016 winners are listed below by category. A first, second, and third place winner was chosen for each ward. Mayor Candace Hollingsworth picked her favorite for the Mayor’s Choice Award. Residents using decorations with reduced environmental impact are eligible for the Green Award.
Awards will be presented at the Hyattsville City Council meeting on Jan. 9.
Mayor’s Choice Award: Ward 3
Green Award: Ward 5
Ward 1 Winners
Ward 2 Winners
Ward 3 Winners
Ward 4 Winners
Ward 5 Winners