After riding along last year, the City of Hyattsville “Claus Applause” holiday decorating contest is now on my list of must-cover events.  So much so, I scheduled my vacation around it. It is hands-down the most fun way to be civically engaged in our city.  Led by Events and Recreation Supervisor Cheri Everhart, participants receive a free tour of all the best holiday lights while listening to holiday music before voting for their favorites.

Even though I see holiday decorations driving around, I don’t really take the opportunity to stop and appreciate them. We also don’t make it to many of the residential nooks of the community.  Riding along with the Claus Applause judges let me see the beautiful decorations on Carrollton Terrace, the Frozen-themed house on Kennedy Street and these two houses on 29th Avenue that really blow the judges away.

I believe this event is just another one of the gems of our community.  Having so many wonderfully decorated houses in all corners of our city and having a city government that wants to celebrate the season in this positive way is a part of what makes Hyattsville a special corner of the region. Decorating your home to share holiday cheer with neighbors, looking at the lights, nominating others for an award and volunteering to judge this sort of contest are all little threads that help connect us as a community.

Everhart told me last year that the councilmembers used to do the judging of all the houses in their ward, but then judging changed four years ago to nominated houses and volunteer judges.  Last year, there were eight volunteer judges, ranging from regular volunteers to those who wanted to do more civic participation.  This year, the judging was sparsely attended by two volunteer judges.

I told myself last year that I would drive around and nominate holiday displays in 2015.  But, I failed to find the time to do so.  I also said that I would round up more troops to participate in such a wonderful evening.  But, I didn’t.  There are so many events going on around the holidays, it is sometimes hard for an event to stand out.

The winter holidays are a busy time for everyone.  But, if you reading this and you love the holiday lights in our community, I ask that in 2016, you nominate the holiday light displays that you like.  I also invite you to join the Claus Applause judging next year, because it really is a fun event.

Nonetheless, there’s still time to get out and visit the winners this year!  Awards will be presented at the Jan. 4 Hyattsville City Council Meeting.

Mayor’s Choice Award


Green Award


Ward One

Ward Two


Ward Three


Ward Four


Ward Five


Other entries/photos


Rebecca Bennett is a Hyattsville resident and has been working with the Hyattsville Life & Times since June 2014.  She was asked to assist as a guest judge.