Decorating contests inspire holiday spirit


Wrightsville Beach residents Kim and Steve Wilt’s outdoor Christmas lights were deemed the best of 17 homes that took part in the town’s annual holiday decorating contest, but Steve Wilt credited his three children in helping earn the Best Overall award.

In addition to helping him string up lights, his 14-year-old son James, 11-year-old son Charles and 11-year-old daughter Elliott took on the challenge of untangling the lights from last year’s decorating efforts, Wilt explained.

He said his decorating strategy was to work with the natural elements around his S. Harbor Island home.

“We have a circular driveway, so we put in arches that you drive under when you pull in,” he said. “We also try to accentuate the live oak trees.”

While the Wilts captured the grand prize, a number of homes throughout the neighborhood also created impressive displays.

“A lot of the families get into it, whether they enter the contest or not,” he said.

Friendly rivalries have even emerged over the years, Wilt added, like with his neighbor Jeff Turpin, who also entered the contest. But it’s all in good fun, Wilt said, and the result is a “very well-decorated community.”

“It’s a very festive neighborhood,” he added.

The holiday decorating contest gave awards in several other categories. The Docks at 2 Marina Street received Best Overall Business for lining the docks with an elegant array of garlands, red bows and white lights. Helen Fawcett earned Most Creative for stringing red and green lights over her Volkswagen bus. Nancy Faye Craig was given Best Entryway for her bicycle-themed decorations.

The other winners were Walt Laughlin, Most Nautical; Ann and Bud Davis, Most Traditional; South End Surf Shop, Most Holiday Spirit; and Rev. Pat Rabun, Best Holiday Lighting.

Small businesses and properties in downtown Wilmington were also encouraged to adorn their windows and enter the 2015 Window Decorating Contest.

A panel of judges selected Kat 5 Kava at 123 Grace Street as the winner for its display featuring live music, lights and a snow machine. Second place went to Chandler’s Wharf Shops for its traditional Christmas tree and illuminated snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. Occasions Just Write received third place for a shimmering white display highlighted by dangling icicle lights.

The Wonder Shop at 22 North Front Street won the People’s Choice Award for a display that a press release called a “thought-provoking display that focused on the difference in people’s lives at Christmas, with some having too much and others having too little.”

“It is inspiring to see the creativity and originality of the window decorations,” event organizer Amy Grant stated in the press release. “This activity brings people together in the spirit of the holidays.”


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