Kenai and Nikiski residents are encouraged to get into the holiday spirit and display their outdoor full-sized nativity scenes, Santa and his lighted reindeer, colorful pathway lights, inflatable licensed characters and their holiday flamingos to start lighting up the night.
The Kenai Chamber of Commerce and the Nikiski Community Council are holding programs to promote residents and businesses to get ready for Christmas.
Bonita Miller, a member of the council’s beautification committee, said nominations are being sought for three categories in Nikiski — residential traditional, residential animated and business.
In 2012, the first time the contest was held for nearly ten years, the committee received 13 nominations. Winners included Charlie’s Pizza for the top business, as well as John Klimpke’s Light’s Display for residential animated and Bill and Danita Parrish’s display for residential traditional.
“Last year it was 20 below when (the judges) were driving around,” Miller said.
The winners received Homer Electric Association energy credit and gift certificates from local businesses and all other entries received a gift certificate as well, Miller said.
Her favorite part of the program is calling the winners, who often times are very surprised by the call.
“I just love that sometimes, they don’t even know they were nominated,” Miller said.
According to the nomination form, the NCC is promoting the ‘Nikiski Night Lights’ holiday lights contest as a part of the community beautification plan. The form can be found at the Nikiski Post Office, Nikiski Pool and also at www.nikiskicc.com
The deadline for Nikiski residents to nominate is Dec. 15. The committee will tour the area and judge the nominated homes and businesses.
The council is looking at all types of decorations, and hoping to see residents with creative displays, Miller said. Also, she hope residents make sure to nominate those who have festive displays, anything that is eye catching and bright.
“We really need people to nominate neighbors or community members,” Miller said.
Kenai Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Johna Beech said the center is taking nomination for its Holiday Decorating contest through 5 p.m. Dec. 13. The winner will be announced on Dec. 20.
“We are relying on the community to tell us what is out there,” Beech said.
The chamber has held the annual holiday decorating contest for the past six years. Last year the chamber only received ten nominations.
“I don’t think a lot of people braved the elements (last year) to put up decorations,” she said.
Beech is hoping this year’s improved winter weather will encourage more residents to decorate, and others to nominate, Beech said.
“If it tickles your fancy, ... then by all means go on our website and nominate them,” she said
No matter how many nominations the chamber receives, Beech said a group of Unocal retirees load into a van and take a tour of decorated homes and businesses.
“They make a night of it,” she said.
Residential and business winners receive HEA energy bucks or credit, $100 for first place.
In an email, HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher, said HEA partners with the chamber and council by offering credits to winners of the contest.
As for those ready to light up the darkness, Gallagher said LED lights, or light-emitting diode, are the way to go.
“According to Energy Star, a single 7-watt incandescent bulb uses the same amount of electricity as 140 individual LED Christmas lights,” he wrote in an email. “Replacing the incandescent lights edging a home at Christmas with an equal number of LED lights can cut energy usage by up to 90 percent.”
Gallagher also said that LED Christmas lights will burn up to 60 times longer than the incandescent variety. The LED color is bright and vibrant compared to the painted-glass incandescent bulbs and LED bulbs are less likely to break.
“LED lights do not get hot and will not burn skin or anything else,” he wrote.
At this time of year with lights and electric cords, Gallagher said safety is always a main concern. He encouraged the proper use of extension cords.
“Outdoor cords can be used inside or outside,” he wrote. “Do not overload extension cords — they can get hot enough to burn.”