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Who has area’s best holiday display?

BY ROB HEDELT

WHILE MOST of us are shopping or finishing up turkey leftovers this weekend, Rick and Bonnie Simpson of Spotsylvania County are putting the final touches on their amazing Christmas display.

Not only has the couple, who live in the Bloomsbury neighborhood, already put up countless strings of lights and decorations, they’ve set up 20 or so uniquely decorated trees inside the house.

By now, Rick Simpson has also readied his home-built “reindeer train,” made from 55-gallon plastic drums. He uses it to give young visitors rides behind his four-wheeler.

The Simpsons had their annual lighting celebration Thanksgiving night, inviting family, friends and neighbors to see the lights go on atop the house and in several tall trees.

But they certainly aren’t alone hereabouts in having a dazzling Christmas display.

It’s why, for the 22nd year, I’m again asking readers for help in creating a “Grand Holiday Displays” feature, to provide bright-lights lovers with a listing of our area’s most highly decorated homes.

Get in touch soon and tell me about the best and most elaborately decorated houses hereabouts. Though all decorations are joyful, I’m not looking for houses with minimal decorations.

This list, used each year by those who enjoy “bright-lights cruising,” is for those houses that are done up and then some. In other words, the ones with thousands of lights, layers of decorations, an elaborate computer display or something else that makes them unique.

Because I visit all the homes considered for the list, and because it takes longer and longer to do that, I’ve been forced to limit new nominations to homes in Fredericksburg and Stafford and Spotsylvania counties. I’ll continue to list a few houses that have been regulars for years in other parts of the area.

HOW TO NOMINATE

Recommending a house for the list is easy.

The best way is emailing me, though you can also write a letter or send a fax. You can nominate your own house, your neighbor’s or simply one you see while out and about.

To be considered for the list, a nomination must—and this is ironclad—include the home’s address, a brief description of its display and directions to it.

It’s very helpful, when possible, to also include the name of the folks who live in the decorated home and a way to reach them by phone.

Attaching a photo to a nominating email helps and can only increase the chances of the home making the list.

At a minimum, a home must be nominated by a number of different folks to get on the list. That shows several folks think it’s something special.

A good test to see if a house belongs on the list: Is it special enough to take relatives out to visit it on a holiday evening?

HELP FROM REGULARS

It helps me immensely if you list “regulars,” folks who have been on this list for years, can send an email message telling me that your displays are up again this year.

When you do, it’s also great if you can mention any significant additions.

In the email, please include your name, address and a phone number to reach you if necessary, as it helps me to keep all these different stops straight.

Readers have until Dec. 7 to submit their nominations. After that, none will be accepted, so don’t dawdle.

Starting Dec. 11 and for several nights to follow, I’ll be going out to visit newly nominated homes to see how they measure up.

To make the list, houses will need to have lights and displays up and on when I visit, which will be between dusk and 11 p.m.

This is the only way I can make sure what goes on the list should be there.

I check because over the years, people have nominated houses that never actually got decorated and/or have provided directions to their own homes with wrong turns and worse.

I’ll share the completed list Dec. 18.

And on Dec. 20, I’ll feature one home as the winner, an example of the most highly decorated among us. Again choosing a house much like that of the Simpsons, last year’s winner.

A house that provides joy not just to neighbors, but to visitors who stop by for an instant injection of holiday cheer.

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415

rhedelt@freelancestar.com

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