Even a global pandemic couldn’t cool the minds of Marco Islanders as they celebrated the 27th Christmas Home Decorating Contest on Friday, December 18.
The convoy of judges and interested islanders made their way around the island led by island treasure, Dave Rice, and his co-chair, his wife Jeanne. Dave Rice, whose community service resume includes recognition as Marco Island Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year, started the popular home decorating event in 1994 and carefully planned every detail of the evening. Due to the pandemic, judges rode in an open-air cart and some judges took the extra precaution of getting into their own cars to judge. A long line of islanders also followed the cart just for fun. And that was amusing! Temperatures dropping into the 1950s allowed participants to bundle up a bit and really get into the Christmas spirit. “We are the most important vehicle on the island tonight,” Jeanne Rice told the tram driver, providing detailed route instructions including stops at the homes of the 10 finalists, spread over the 4 x 6 – mile island. The judges seemed to agree that this year’s trolley driver was the best ever as they passed the hat on to show their appreciation for his driving skills. âIt’s a fun event because it’s short term,â said Dave Rice. âBefore, I was in charge of all Christmas Island Style. I guess I have been to those 35 years old. This event I started 27 years ago. When I started the street parade at night – it was a little day parade – I started it at night and it turned into a monster – 65 floats and all the high school groups in the area played there , with the exception of Immokalee. I ran this for eight or 10 years. I said, ‘I have to give this up. I just kept this part of it. Rice’s original intention in launching the Christmas house decorating contest was to light up the island with the Christmas spirit. âTurn on Marco,â he said. âI would give almost everyone a free fairy lights,â he said with a laugh. “I don’t care if it’s even a light. As long as it looks like Christmas. Just be a part of it! “ The home decorating contest is serious business. This year’s winners, Therese and Joe Giannone had a solid three weeks building their show. That’s three weeks less than they needed before when they were still figuring things out. âWe have been doing this since we moved here in 1998,â said ThÃ©rÃ¨se Giannone. “Now we’re pretty much experts in this area. I think we are. We put it together in three weeks. Three weeks at eight hours a day. Before, it took us six weeks. We increase it just a little at a time each year. We lived in Barfield for four or five years and we did a bit there. We moved here to Channel Court in 2002 and it just got bigger and bigger. We keep making it bigger every year, buying more lights.“ The Giannones aren’t the only ones who spend a lot of time creating elaborate Christmas displays. âThe big guys start right after Halloween,â said Dave Rice. âThanksgiving is the big weekend. But there are a few houses that are definitely starting manner before that.” There is a five-year abstention period for winners. âFrom day one, we had a five-year opt-out period for previous winners,â Rice explained. “There is also a separate competition for businesses. Rice said more than 100 companies on the island are participating.Lee County Electric Co-op has sponsored the event since its first year. They find the lighting contest to be natural to them. “We are a perfect partnership, we call it,” said Tricia Dorn, LCEC Key Account Manager. Dorn works with the town of Marco Island and all the other major accounts on the island.LCEC’s Director of Public Relations, Karen Ryan, attended the event for the first time in 10 years. She was delighted with what she saw. âTricia has been with her for 27 years,â said Karen Ryan, âso she isn’t surprised by everything she saw tonight. But I was surprised by the past winners who are still in the game. holiday spirit. iWe are pleased to sponsor this event. It’s just a big community event. It’s great to see how everyone comes together. âWe’re not for profit, so we don’t have a lot of money to do things all the time. We try to look for things in the community that allow us to give back to the community, but which are also a natural fit. For us, a lighting competition is a natural fit.“The ladies of LCEC noticed that more LED lights were showing on the screens of the island. âLED lighting is awesome,â Ryan said. “They are much brighter and last longer.” âThey might cost a little more to start with, but they last longer,â Dorn added. âI can tell you that at my house we had to add additional circuit breakers. And we have nothing compared to what they have here! âThe LED helps with that,â Ryan said. The Giannones are on board with LED lighting. âWe are trying to convert to LEDs,â said Therese Giannone.“LED is a game-changer,” confirmed Joe Giannone. A finalist, Steve Connor at 1842 Dogwood Drive, made all of his display in LED. The Giannones were humbled by their victory. “I am shocked,” said ThÃ©rÃ¨se Giannone. âI sure wasn’t expecting it. I feel so grateful for it. Everyone appreciates. Children who spend with their parents. We usually dress up as Santa Claus, but we’ve decided with COVID that we shouldn’t be doing this. We didn’t want to put any child in danger. We used to give gifts to all the children. We have decided this year not to do so. But we’ve been doing this for 22 years now. We love this!”
Therese and Joe Giannone, 151 Channel Court, Grand VainqueurTop 10 finalists (in no particular order)1453 Bermuda Road371 Yarmouth Street1591 Gallion Avenue1625 Ludlow Road780 Copeland Drive975 Lion’s Court1842 Dogwood Drive1955 Sheffield Ave 151 Channel Canal1208 Fruitland Avenue
To see also:
1952 Sheffield Ave1572 Court of the Shores812 Newell Terrace
1264 Whiteheart Avenue865 Swan Drive161 Bermuda Road513 Nassau Road