Lowell Light & Power (LL&P) teamed up with the Lowell Rotary Club to sponsor a light display competition this holiday season. Residents and businesses who are customers of the local utility were encouraged to enter. For each entry, LL&P was set to donate $10 to Rotary’s Youth Services Committee.
The Drive By
Last week the judges, LL&P General Manager Steve Donkersloot, Flat River Outreach Ministries (FROM) Executive Director Dawn Broene, and LL&P Board Chair Perry Beachum drove around to look at each entry and make a decision on the winner. According to Donkersloot, three businesses and 20 residents entered the contest. However, he notes, “There were many other residences and businesses (easily 100+) that put lights up but did not enter the competition.” He and the other judges were impressed with the number of homes and businesses with lights as well as the wide range of decor which was displayed.
The top residential house goes to Milissa Miller and her family. Many are familiar with this home and shouldn’t be surprised it ended up in the top spot. Greenridge Realty was declared the winner in the commercial division. Their Holiday Light and Music Show set the bar high early on in the competition.
Melissa Miller – Residential Winner
The Miller family consists of Randall, Melissa and their two sons Raiden and Mack. Melissa and her husband have been decorating their home for about 20 years and have been doing so in their current neighborhood for eight years. Their home, located at 11336 Trent St. in Whispering Hills, the subdivision located behind Meijer, is known to many in the community.
When Melissa and Randall were first married and out on their own they wanted to put out a few lights for the holidays. Their love of creating a more elaborate light display grew from there. “I’ve always liked Christmas lights and doing the decorations and I’ve always wanted to enter ‘the great Christmas light fight’ so I thought this would be the next coolest thing.” says Miller. She saw a post on Facebook about the contest and decided to enter.
Typically the family’s display doesn’t change from year to year. But this doesn’t keep people from driving past their house. This year they weren’t sure the lights would go up. Melissa had surgery on November 12 and Randall is scheduled for spine surgery in January. But with the help from their kids their festival of lights is up again this year.
“Putting up the lights gives a sense of warmth and happy feeling if nothing else. If you’ve had a bad day you can drive by or stop to see the lights and it just might brighten up your day. We hand out candy canes and ornaments to kids and to see the look on their faces is priceless.” Melissa comments. The Miller home is certainly decked out for the holidays. There’s still time to drive by and see what they’ve created whether it’s for the first time or you’re familiar with the display.
Greenridge Realty – Commercial Winner
Josh McCracken, Greenridge Realty’s incoming Manager, says Lowell already has the best (and only) Santa in Michigan and the best downtown in Michigan. The group from Greenridge wanted to create the best light display to help draw more people to the community. Being in the realty business and having a house as an office lends to an ideal base to work with. Greenridge typically puts up some lights each year, an effort usually led by agent Ryan Hesche. At first the goal was to put up a thousand lights but ideas kept coming and coming. Thanks to Dave VanKeulen’s programming, the lights were put to a handful of songs. Erin VanSpronsen created all of the gingerbread men, candy canes, and a big box of candy. McCracken’s pretty sure everyone from the office hung at least one light, making it truly a team effort.
Since the display went live in November, there has been steady traffic coming to see the show. Twice Greenridge has handed out candy grab bags and gift certificates as further incentive to stop by with over 100 gift bags being handed out over the course of two evenings.
Some in the office suggested leaving the lights up all year incorporating songs for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and other holidays but the idea was “shot down quickly”. If you’re interested in checking out the light and music display at Greenridge Realty, head to 1160 W. Main St. before the display is taken down after the first of the year.
McCracken is appreciative of all the participants and claims this is another reason why Lowell is a great community they’re proud to help people move into. They’re already begun planning for 2020. “We will be stepping up our game as we know we set the bar high and other business will want to steal our coveted Christmas Light Trophy.” comments McCracken. “We would love to see Lowell become another destination for Christmas lights in West Michigan. If I can somehow rig up pyrotechnics to come out the chimney, and not burn our house down, we will have an even more amazing show next year.” That sounds like a challenge to other Lowell businesses. Good thing there’s a little less than a year for everyone to plan.
Contest to Become Annual Event
While the number of entries were not numerous, the generosity of Lowell Light & Power will exceed expectations. Initially the utility was going to donate $10 for every entry up to 125 to Lowell Rotary Club. The board authorized a $2,500 donation, which will be given and used to help youth in the community through Rotary’s various clubs throughout the Lowell Area School buildings.
The hope is that this competition will become a yearly event for the community. A Holiday Lighting Competition trophy for each of the winners is being made. The prize will remain with the winner for a year before it’s passed along to the next resident and commercial winner. It will also serve as a reminder of who has won over the years as the winner’s name will remain on the trophy from year to year. This year’s winners will also receive a gift basket of goodies including a FROM Treasures gift card, a one month membership to the YMCA, Lowell Bucks, and an Advanced Eyecare Professionals gift card.
“Rotary and LL&P very much appreciate everyone who participated! Driving around and viewing the entries, as well as the many other homes that put lights up this holiday season, was worth every second.” says Donkersloot. “We encourage everyone to take some time to check out the entire community! We would like to give a special ‘shout-out’ to the Whispering Hills and Valley Vista neighborhoods for the number of homes with lights up!” He’s already looking forward to planning for next year’s event. Some tweaks are likely to occur such as spreading the word about the contest earlier in the season, the possibility of having different categories within the residential and commercial divisions, and who knows what other surprises are in store.
Take some time this holiday season to drive around the various neighborhoods in Lowell to see the variety of light displays residents and businesses have put up for all to enjoy.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Light & Power and used with permission.