By MADDY VITALE
A little friendly competition is nearing as Sea Isle City plans its 2019 House Lighting Contest.
Registration for this annual competition, which is open to local residents and businesses, is required by 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
The event is hosted by Sea Isle City’s Division of Recreation in cooperation with the Sea Isle City Garden Club.
Each year, the Recreation Office receives approximately 10 to 15 entries for the contest.
Property owners can nominate their own homes for judging, but anyone who admires a nicely decorated property is always welcome to nominate that home as well, Sea Isle City Public Information Officer Katherine Custer said.
“The lighting contest is a perennial reminder that the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Sea Isle City,” Custer said. “We are very grateful that members of the Sea Isle City Garden Club donate their time to determine our winners each year.”
The judges from the Sea Isle City Garden Club consider three main categories: creativity, aesthetic effect and endeavor.
About five members will drive through the community Dec. 12 to view the displays and select the top three homes to award prizes.
Custer said judging the House Lighting Contest is always a difficult task to choose the top three.
“It’s never an easy decision, because we always have a variety of beautifully decorated homes entered in the contest,” she noted. “We are also extremely grateful for the generous support this event receives from First Bank of Sea Isle City and Rocky and Fred’s Creative Design Florist.”
She said that is why the city’s website displays many of the other decorated properties.
Marie Tighe, co-chair of the Garden Club, gave a few hints about what the judges look for.
“Beauty and organization are important,” she said Tuesday. “We also look for the amount of time involved. Some of these displays, we could tell, take a long time to put up. Some are really beautiful.”
Tighe, who has been one of the judges for five or six years, said over the years there has not been one description of what they fancy. It really runs the gamut from traditional to more modern decorations.
“It is what hits all of us at one time. We score the homes and then we total it for the first, second and third place winners. Sometimes it is really hard to judge them because they are all so nice.”
Although Tighe said she could not recall any businesses participating over the years, she noted the Garden Club would love to see some shop owners join in the contest.
What she has seen year after year are homeowners who take pride in their properties, enjoy the holidays and like the friendly competition.
“These are homeowners from all walks of life,” she said. “Some of them live here full time, some just have vacation homes here. I admire the homeowners. We can always count on them to get involved in the contest. They are wonderful people.”
Tighe gave some insight into what the judges would enjoy seeing in this year’s House Lighting Contest.
“We would love to have more ornate decorations,” she said. “We are also happy with small displays that are well done.”
Her advice to property owners, “Try your best, have fun and hope for the best. That is really all.”
First prize ($100) and second prize ($50) will be provided courtesy of First Bank of Sea Isle City. Third prize (a floral arrangement) will be provided courtesy of Rocky and Fred’s Creative Design Florist.
To register your property or business in the 2019 House Lighting Contest, call Sea Isle City’s Recreation Office at 609-263-0050, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.