Preliminary Christmas home-decorating judging starts tonight; 2,000 homes expected to participate

Special to the Sun Times

In 1997, Dave Rice, then the overall Christmas Island Style chairman, requested Lee County Electric Company’s support of a new event on Marco Island -- a contest to honor the top Christmas-decorated homes.

For 18 years, LCEC has annually supported this independent program.

“It is our pleasure to continue financial support of this wonderful annual community event,” said Trish Dorn of LCEC. “The some 2,000-plus private homes and businesses that decorated in 2014 are customers of LCEC and we feel that we are not just a sponsoring business, but a real partner in the success of the contest.”

This year, the preliminary judging will be done on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 15-16, from 6:30-10:30 p.m. each night. Property owners are instructed to have their lights on all two nights to ensure that the judges view all properties.

The final judging is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 19, from 6:30-10 p.m.

The top-10 decorated homes are viewed from the committee bus following the committees tail-gate party at Centennial Bank. Centennial Bank is a long-time sponsor of the party.

The overall winner of the house contest receives a cash award of $250, a yard sign and the winner’s plaque. All top 10 contestants receive a plaque.

“Being selected from over 2,000 decorated homes as one of the top 10 is not easy,” said Rice. “The competition brings out the best and most original decorations.”

The business winner is judged on exterior decorations and presented a plaque and a yard sign..

Many previous winners display their yard signs annually and continue to decorate in the spirit of the season. Top 10 contenders and “worth seeing” addresses are supplied to the media so families may visit and enjoy the beauty and originality of the decorated homes throughout the holiday season.

The island is divided into nine areas, with a judging team evaluating every home on every street on Marco. The judging teams rotate to a different zone each season. Winners are not eligible to win again for a five-year period.

Judges and committee

The committee judges for the contest are: chairman, Dave Rice, 2012 Citizen of the Year, and co-chairperson Jeanne Rice; treasurer, Bob Boland; secretary, Donna Rohrback and Jim Rohrbach; Carla and Mike Mickes; public relations chairman Dick Niess and Ann Niess; chamber of commerce past president Nancy Carrington and Joe Carrington; city council chairman Larry Sacher and Judy Sacher, Debbie and Marty Roddy; Paula Robinson, past Volunteer of the Year recipient and Richard Robinson; YMCA icon and past citizen of the year recipient Dottie Wiener; LCEC representative Tricia Dorn; Liz and Bill Doyle; city councilman Ken Honecker and Diane Honecker; Jerry Swaicki, vice chairman, Eagle Sanctury; Linda Turner, director of operations, Eagle Sanctuary; Barry and Peggy Grass; |Bette McGilvray; Steven Josselyn, and Sue and Jeff Hewson.

Rice may be contacted by e-mail at or by cellular at 239-250-2175.