Residents go all out to shine bright

Posted: Sunday, December 21, 2003

Jay C. Smith couldn't find Christmas lights in the colors he wanted for sale, so he improvised. He bought 12 strings of all-white mini Christmas lights and 12 strings of all-red mini Christmas lights, then spent hours swapping lights to make 24 strings of alternating red-white mini Christmas lights.

His dedication, or what some might call obsession, paid off.


Lighted ornaments hang from the trees in the Wells' yard.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Smith took first place in the residential category this year in the annual Christmas decorating contest sponsored by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce. Smith wrapped a few yards of the red and white lights around an arch made of PVC he put up over the entrance to his drive.

The lights make the arch look like it's made of candy cane. To enforce the illusion, he hung a giant, lighted plastic candy cane from the center of the arch.

"I get a lot of my ideas off HGTV (Home and Garden Television)," including the idea for the archway, Smith admitted.


The Ely residence lights up 1121 Redoubt Ave. for third place.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Smith flagged both sides of his drive with the remaining, majority of the red and white lights.

Sharon Hamrick of the Soldotna Chamber said a committee of board and staff members picks the first- through third-place winners in two categories residential and commercial. Many of the contenders are nominated by neighbors and community members.

Hamrick said there are no official contest criteria the committee uses to select the winners. However, she noted, "We pay attention to details how the lights are put up, is there a theme?"


An archway framed in lights greets visitors to the Jay C. Smith residence at 48939 Jones Stub Rd. in Soldotna. Smith won first place in Soldotna's lights contest.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Hamrick said the committee was impressed by Smith's nativity scene, two inflatable snowmen and giant star on the roof of his house as well as all the lights, but it was his "candy cane" arch and yards of red and white lights leading up to the house that bumped him into first place.

"The driveway really imp-ressed us," she said.

Smith said he's been decorating during the holidays for six or seven years, but he doesn't decorate to impress anyone.

"I just love putting up the lights. It's like my Christmas present to my neighbors," he said.

Asked how much that present costs in electric bills, Smith said his wife would know better than he would.

"The bill does go up. I couldn't say how much, but not enough to stop him," said wife, Karen Smith.

Winners of the 2003 Kenai Village of Lights contest, sponsored by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, were chosen by Executive Director Colleen Canady and Executive Assistant Kathy Moore. Three residential and three business winners were named, as well as several "outstanding efforts certificate winners."

Canady said the house they awarded first place to had every tree and bush in the yard lit up, but was all the more impressive because it lurks at the end of a dark street and jumps out at you as you turn the corner.

"We thought we were on the wrong street, then we turned the corner and holy cow!" she said.

The house is owned by Malcolm and Sherry McBride and was decorated by father and son, Malcolm and Michael.


Lights replace leafs on shrubbery at the Dalkovski's.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Malcolm McBride said he grew to be in charge of hanging Christmas lights on his parents' house as a kid, so it just seemed natural to hang them on his own family's house as an adult.

It seemed just as natural to add more and more lights to the show each year, until, as McBride puts it, "You find yourself in the basement for 2 1/2 months replacing bulbs."


The trees and bushes are ablaze with lights at the Dalkovski residence in Soldotna. Their home, at the corner of West Sunrise and Kobuk streets, won third place.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

According to McBride, the mini-bulbs tend to die their mini-deaths from filament burnout accelerated by cold weather. However, there are hairier natural causes. They're called moose.

The day before the contest was judged, moose pulled down about 800 of McBride's lights. He summed up his opinion of the four-legged vandals in four short words "Moose are a pain," he said.

Not that McBride restrung the lights to win the contest. "I tell my family never to enter me, but they always do," he said.


A lighted snowman holds a candycane court at the Smith residence.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Whether the winners decorated for family and friends, to compete in the contests, or irritate moose, the energy credits they receive as prizes for their efforts will help keep their displays lit.

A total of $600 in energy credits donated by Homer Electric Association will be split between the Kenai and Soldotna winners.

A list of winners follows:

Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Christmas Decorating Contest


First Place: Jay C. Smith, 48939 Jones Stub Road

Second Place: Gary and Sharon Hale, 140 Henrich

Third Place: Mike and Savica Dalkovski, 304 W. Sunrise


First Place: Froso's, 35433 Kenai Spur Highway

Second Place: Soldotna Profess-ional Pharmacy, 299 N. Binkley St.

Third Place: Enstar Natural Gas, 36225 Kenai Spur Highway

Kenai Village of Lights Contest


First Place: Malcolm McBride, 1111 5th Ave.

Second Place: Roy and Jocelyn Wells, 410 Lawton Drive

Third Place: Gloria Ely: 1121 Redoubt Ave.


First Place: Era Aviation, Kenai Municipal Airport

Second Place: Dr. Zuirul, 220 Spur View Road

Third Place: Good Time Coffee Company

Outstanding Efforts Certif-icate Winners

Howard and Michelle Koenigs, 1602 Woodside Drive

Tonya Silk, 8287 Kenai Spur Highway

Don and Janelle Weller, 1805 Miranda St.

Larry and Pat Porter, 310 Rogers Road

Name unknown, 1608 Pine St.

Lopez, 105 Walker

Mark and Anita Necessary, 1615 Toyon

Stroh, 1545 Stellar Ave.

Name unknown, 202 Norman

Mercado, 202 Lawton Drive

City of Kenai

Winners' names and addresses were provided by the Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce.

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