Lee County Electric Co-op sponsors Marco Island’s Christmas house light decorating contest.

That has to come under the heading of shrewd marketing moves; while LCEC covers the expenses of the contest judging, including the $250 prize for the grand prize winner, the kilowatt hours burned by the contestants has to translate to a home run for the island’s electric utility.

Friday night, the judges for the event met up to tour the top 10 entries in a rolling party, traveling by trolley with tunes and bar aboard. The trolley was trailed by a couple of dozen cars full of “light lookers,” forming a convoy that crisscrossed the island’s residential streets.

Just stringing some lights, or putting up a manger scene will not suffice to put a homeowner into the coveted top 10 finalists. The contestants have spent weeks or months decorating their properties, leaving no possible surface bare. Santa on the rooftop with sleigh and reindeer, toy train layouts on the driveway, lights forming patterns on the lawns, angels trumpeting, Mary and Joseph kneeling in a manger, elves, nutcrackers, forests of candy canes and inflatable snowmen, and every shrub laden with multi-colored lights – these are the requirements to be considered. To enter, homeowners just light up their homes. Teams of judges comb the island’s streets in the days before the final judging, narrowing down the field.

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While there were plenty of decorated homes in this, the 21st year of the contest, organizer Dave Rice said overall entries were down 3-400 from previous years, which he attributed to Hurricane Irma. But those who store their decorations all year, and can’t wait for November to start putting them up, still make sure their halls are decked.

Winners Scott and Maria Schilke, of 865 Swan Drive, won previously, and when they are once again eligible in five years, expect to compete again – which doesn’t mean their yard will go dark in the meantime.

In the companion business decorating contest, top honors went to the Speakeasy, said Rice.

If you want to view all the finalists, this is the route the judges’ trolley followed.

Happy house-hunting!

  • 1264 Whiteheart
  • 1453 Bermuda
  • 91 Bermuda
  • 1368 Trinidad
  • 1842 Dogwood
  • 1625 Ludlow
  • 780 Copeland
  • 865 Swan
  • 513 Nassau
  • 1208 Fruitland



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