House decorating finalists and overall winner awarded

Lance Shearer

In all, according to the Christmas Island Style home decorating judging committee, 1,584 homeowners on Marco Island decorated their houses for the holidays.

Friday night, the judges in the Marco Island House Decorating Contest boarded a bright yellow bus and visited “the best and the brightest” of these holiday homes, touring the top ten finalists and selecting the overall winner. This year marked the 22nd year for the contest.

Inflatables complement a house and its yard lights during the judging of the annual Christmas Home Decorating Contest on Friday night.

Homeowners didn’t have to complete a form to enter the competition. The homes themselves were the entries, impossible to miss as judging committee members fanned out across the island over a series of three nights before the final judging, driving every street and evaluating all homes with Christmas lights. Winners from the last five years are ineligible to repeat, but that didn’t stop those homeowners from continuing to create the “winner wonderlands” that earned them their coveted “winner” yard sign.

As the bus navigated the relatively narrow streets and made dicey turns to negotiate turning around in the cul de sacs, a caravan of nearly 20 cars followed behind, filled with more people wanting to view Christmas lighting at its most over the top. For these homes, no detail was left unlit, with manger scenes, inflatables of every description, netting of lights covering the roof, trees turned into fireworks, and balloons, candy canes, Santa and his sleigh on top of the roof, and lights extending all the way out to the street

Judges drop off a finalist's certificate, and return with cookies.The winners of the annual Christmas Home Decorating Contest were honored Friday night in Marco Island.

As the judges’ bus stopped at each home, a committee member hopped out to deliver a plaque recognizing them as a finalist. Some were “honored just to be nominated,” as Oscar contenders say, but the sentiment was not universal.

“I could paper my walls with these” framed certificates, noted one homeowner. Many of the finalists do repeat year after year, and it must be tough to be “always a bridesmaid…”

When the judges tallied their votes, they awarded overall winner status to the home of Eric and Suzi Szczepanski at 513 Nassau Street. This was the last home visited, so it made for a quick trip back to deliver the winner’s sign and hearty congratulations.

The yard, the trees, the shrubs and the house are all lit up at this finalist. The winners of the annual Christmas Home Decorating Contest were honored Friday night.

If you want to tour the homes that earned designations as finalists, you will see the glow before you reach the home. follow the route the judges laid out for the most efficient routing. That would take you to:

  • 91 Bermuda
  • 1453 Bermuda
  • 151 Channel Court
  • 1842 Dogwood
  • 975 Leo Court
  • 780 Copeland
  • 1591 Galleon
  • 1264 Whiteheart
  • 1208 Fruitland
  • 513 Nassau Street
  • Previous winners illuminated, but not eligible this year, include:
  • 1369 N. Collier
  • 865 Swan
  • 161 Bermuda
  • 1710 Winterberry