By Ainsley Dahl,
In South Davis, the Bang family clicks on their beaming and vibrant lights, filling the street with color.
Across town, families in Wildhorse begin their festive night on Candy Cane Lane, as inflatables rise and the yards begin to glow.
All throughout town families are behind the wheel, driving by the artful light displays scattered in Davis neighborhoods. These family trips become yearly traditions as more and more participate in the collection of holiday lights.
“It makes Davis feel more magical when you go down the street,” sophomore Lia Elms said.
To celebrate the tremendous efforts the Davis residents have made, the Davis Enterprise created a contest for the best light display. Enterprise editor Debbie Davis loves helping orchestrate the competition.
“We started the Holiday Decorating Contest in 1996 as a way to highlight the beautiful displays Davis residents were putting up,” Davis said.
It was a way to “engage our readers in a fun way at the holidays,” Davis said.
Judges from the Enterprise take their families on a drive through town for two nights, finding the hidden gems in the neighborhoods. The judges then gather and discuss their favorites, based on categories.
A money prize is given to winners, but the real prize is the recognition.
“The entrants love seeing their displays highlighted in photos and on the map that we publish in print and online,” Davis said.
For a time, the contest died down as its popularity sank. But in 1997 a former Enterprise employee Derrick Bang resurrected the event. It has been a hit ever since. Bang left the Enterprise in 2010, but not without finding an upside. He could participate once he left and was not an employee.
From 2010 to 2016, the Bang family has won an award every year. They update each year to include the many trends and technological advances made in holiday decorations. These improvements started with LED lights and inflatable figures but now include syncing lighting to radio stations, or projecting images on garage doors.
Bang’s house this year is decked out, with a train sputtering through the yard. Minion cutouts brings joy to children’s evenings. And hidden mickeys mouses add an element of surprise.
Adding handmade cutouts and unique decorations are essential in a winning house.
The Bang family loves the crowds that gather outside their home.
“Now we often hear kids counting [hidden Mickeys] enthusiastically outside, when we’re reading inside or something else,” Bang said.
Sophomores Maya Nunes and Bailee Nicolet used to drive around their favorite neighborhoods to see the lights.
Now, Nicolet prefers decorating her own house, especially the inside.
“Christmas trees and stockings are my favorite but we used to love the lights,” Nicolet said.
Nunes used to enjoy touring the decorated houses. She remembers strolling up and down Candy Cane Lane with her parents. It is a memory she will not lose.