Christmas Splendor contest open to EP residents

Jeanette Brickner
jkendall@timestoday.com
Bill Walker of Sunnyland won in the Special Effects category last year. In addition to a singing reindeer, they dressed up like Santa and an elf and passed out candy canes to the spectators. Since they won last year, they cannot participate this year.

Morton has its Pumpkin Festival. Pekin has its Marigold Festival and East Peoria has the Festival of Lights.

Wendy Faulkner, the chairwoman of the East Peoria Beautification Commission, said it is the city’s time to shine. She is hoping that residents will participate in the annual Christmas Splendor Exterior Decorating Contest, which is now an official East Peoria Festival of Lights event.

The contest is free to enter and is open to East Peoria residents and has three divisions: homes and businesses, which includes schools and churches; and new this year, neighborhoods or streets.

For the newest category, Faulkner said, “We’re looking at the participation of nearly all the homes on that neighborhood or street. It used to be Springfield Road used to be lit up all the way to the Festival of Lights (Winter Wonderland).”

In addition, people can nominate a home they think is deserving of recognition for a Spirit Award.

“Citizens can nominate a home even if they don’t know if the person has entered,” Faulkner said.

Christmas Splendor contestants can enter their own structure or neighborhood, or enter others. Judging will start on Dec. 9 and conclude by Dec. 12, and all entrants must have the outdoor holiday lights on between 5:30 and 9 p.m. those nights.

“Last year I had about 10 people enter, but in year’s past it used to be 20-30 people at least. We’re hoping to see bigger numbers,” Faulkner said.

Faulkner said the 10 to 11 judges, including Festival of Lights Queen AsiaKai Dang and her escort, will use a point-based judging system. They will look at first impression, originality, overall design and theme “and we also take into account the use of special effects,” Faulkner said. “For instance, last year’s winner had an LED Rudolph that sang the songs.”

The contest is open to owner- or tenant-made exterior displays and must be viewable from curbside. Those utilizing professional lighting services as well as 2013 Christmas Splendor contest winners are not eligible.

Awards will be presented to those placing first and second in each category. Neighborhood winners will be recognized with a yard sign. Winners will be recognized at the Dec. 16 East Peoria City Council meeting.

First- and second-place winners will receive a silver bell ornament. Also, new this year, the first-place winners in the hone and spirit categories will receive donated prizes including an overnight stay at Holiday Inn Express and gift cards from Beck’s Florist and Costco. In the past winners received a pewter plate, but those were discontinued about three years ago, Faulkner said.

“I think for the past three years we’ve done silver ornaments from Things Remembered. It’s really pretty,” Faulkner said.

Entry deadline is 5 p.m. Dec. 5. Complete rules and an online entry form are available at www.folepi.org or by calling 698-4717, option 2. Information about the contest is also available on the new Festival of Lights Facebook page and fliers at City Hall and EastSide Centre. Those who do not have access to a computer can fill out the form and drop it off at City Hall.

Faulkner is looking forward to the event.

“I’m really excited. I hope we get more people to participate,” she said. “I think people should participate because this is our thing. This is our Morton Pumpkin Festival, this is our Marigold festival. This is our time to shine. I think people should make our city be seen.”