December 15, 2008


Holiday contest brightens city

18 homes have entered citywide Christmas decorating competition

DecorationJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Daryl Reynolds, of 109 River St. in Cortland, brushes the snow off of an inflatable Christmas bear Saturday after inflating the lawn ornament by remote control. Reynolds is among the city residents who have entered the city holiday decorating contest.

Staff Reporter

A candy-cane fence and large archway surrounds Daryl Reynolds’ house on River Street. Leading up to the stairs on his front door, a sign surrounded in glittery garland reads, “Ho, Ho, Ho.”
At night, the lights flick on and his house is blanketed in a display of holiday cheer.
“Christmas is the biggest day with our family,” Reynolds said.
For several years, with the exception of last year, Reynolds has entered his house into the citywide holiday decorating contest, organized this year by the Cortland Youth Bureau and East End Community Center.
The contest was not held last year, due to a lack of participation. Two years ago, Reynolds came in second place, but he is hoping for first place this time.
The contest, which had been held citywide separately among the different wards since 2000, tapered off in recent years due to decreased participation. Each ward within the city was responsible for its own contest.
The East End Community Center and Cortland Youth Bureau revived the contest this year, and are trying to emphasize the holiday spirit of the Cortland Youth Bureau.
After a Friday application deadline, 18 homes had entered.
“We weren’t expecting that many,” she said.
Reynolds spent about two weeks tinkering around trying to get his display right without going overboard.
Reynolds said he did not spend much time thinking about what makes a good holiday display beyond having lights.
He just took what he had and arranged it to make it look as nice as he wanted.
“What makes a good Christmas display is all up to what the individual person wants (to put up),” he said.
Most people spend as much time decorating the inside of their homes as the outside.
Roberta Batting of Rickard Street, another contestant, says she loves snowmen and that’s apparent from her decorations.
“I renamed my computer room the snowman room,” she said with a laugh.
Batting adorned shelves with miniature snowmen, and placed several 2-foot tall snowmen on the floor, and also placed one miniature snowman on her monitor.
However, snowmen can be found elsewhere in the house.
“My dining room chairs all have snowmen covers along the backs,” she added.
While he did not list a personal favorite decoration, Reynolds said he liked the train display, which he moved after a tip from a neighbor.
“I had a train laid out front on the ground, but one day a neighbor said that would look better on the roof, so that’s where I put it,” he said.
A cutout of a train overloaded with Christmas gifts now sits on the rooftop, while another lies underneath the Christmas tree inside his house. When he lit up the fake tree, he flicked a switch that made it spin slowly in circles.
Batting’s favorite decoration has not been set up yet, because she said it is also her most expensive one.
Her $150 inflatable Santa Claus, which she bought in July, also lights up and says various phrases.
“I can’t wait to put him up,” she said.
Batting added this is her first year buying an inflatable holiday decoration to display outside, and it was something she could not resist. Nearly all of her decorations were accumulated over the years, and she said she rarely buys new ones each year.
“But if you ask my kids, I buy new stuff each year,” Batting said. “There’s such a variety to decorate with, they’re great.”
The entries will be judged between Dec. 19 and 22, photographed and featured during a January party for all the participants at the East End Community Center.
People can log onto to cast their vote for the best decorations. Scott said people will have to go around and see the houses themselves, since no pictures will be on the Web site.


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