With so many wonderful entries, it's never easy to judge the top three winners in Tehachapi News' annual outdoor Christmas light contest. This year, a degree of difficulty was added by the pesky fog that filled the night skies of Tehachapi, Stallion Springs and Bear Valley Springs on Dec. 11, the night judging took place.
But as they say in Hollywood: The show must go on!
The judges took into consideration the overall appearance of each participant's display, as well as other qualities such as uniqueness and originality.
And the awards go to ...
First-place honors went to first-time entrants Lamar and Susan Fink of 28121 Braeburn Place, Stallion Springs.
"This is first contest I have ever entered that I won anything in," Lamar Fink said after learning he and his wife, Susan, would receive the top prize of $100. "We entered because all of our neighbors told us we had great lights and asked us why we didn't enter last year."
The judges were particularly enamored with the enormous reindeer, led by Rudolph himself, standing in front of a curtain of colorful lights.
Said Lamar, "We like the wall of lights. We have had those for about three or four years now. We made the sleigh (for the reindeer) and put the red nose on Rudolph."
Lamar said he and Susan spent about four days decorating the outside of their home. Lamar said the nativity set is his favorite decoration.
Second place went to a returning entrant and past top prize winner, Scott Miller of 24100 Cantle Court in Bear Valley Springs, who will receive a $50 prize.
Miller said he has been decorating for 10-plus years.
"I've been doing it so long, I kinda lost track," he said.
Asked what are his favorite decorations, Miller said, "Just the lights. I try to change it up every year. I add to it, and some years, things wear out, so I get rid of them."
Miller did say he was partial to his candy canes and lollipops.
"I got a snowman now inside the yard that has LED lights, and he is real pretty," he said.
However, one of the most crowd-pleasing features is his nativity set.
"Everyone likes the nativity set," Miller said. "I added a couple of lambs and a cow this time, but I'm still looking for the donkey and the camel for it, and hope to add those by this next year."
Miller said he is not finished decorating the front of his house as it continues to be a work in progress.
Third-place winners are Blake and Sheila Confer, 905 Valerie Lane in Tehachapi, who will receive a $25 prize.
"We have entered several times, but never made the final cut," said Blake Confer.
Asked what he likes most about his decorations, Blake said all the bright, colored lights.
"Every year we do it, and every year we seem to get more decorations and plug in more things," said Blake. "We keep adding more, and the electric company must love us."
Blake said 90 percent of his decorations were purchased locally at Home Depot, Kmart and other local businesses.
"We try to put a lot of lights out there, but we also try to organize it ... make patterns and make sure everything is straight," Blake said. "It takes me four days to do it all."
In addition to this year's winners, the judges gave a special shoutout to several other homeowners for unique and original entries:
• Michael and Nicole Halpin, of 1196 Canyon Drive West, for their precision in the placement of their lights.
• Anthony and Ali Carnevale, of 601 W. Orchard Parkway, for their fantastic lights that coordinated with holiday music.
• Wayne and Jennifer Uhl, of 912 Aleah Lane, for another crowd-pleasing year.
• Debbie Northcutt, of 21606 Old Town Road, for the most decorated Christmas trees EVER.
For the first time this year, Tehachapi News has published a map of all entrants of its annual Christmas Decorating Contest for your enjoyment. So, bundle up the kiddies and take a spin around the best Tehachapi has to offer this holiday season, but, please, keep your hands and your feet inside the vehicle at all times.