Community news: Winners put a lot of heart into holiday decor

A yard filled with whimsical scenes, from Santa's workshop to old St. Nick riding piggyback on a polar bear, won first place in the Residential category of the 30th annual Holiday Outdoor Decorating Contest.

It was the second time winner Carrie Stewart Nolan entered the competition judged by the city's Civic Pride Committee. She and husband Nicholas Nolan received second place last year. This year her son, Casey Baker, and several of her friends helped set up the decorations that span the front yard at 246 S. Sparks St., and wrap around to Oak Street.

Family friend Liz Holt came up with the idea for Santa's Workshop this year. It has a conveyor belt with toys on it, Stewart Nolan said. John Bara set up the music system that plays carols. Others helping were Tony and Jennifer Beahan and Marvin Walker.

“It's a lot of fun,” Stewart Nolan said. “We just enjoy doing it, and the neighbors and people come by every day and thank us for putting it up. While we were doing it they were like 'Oh, I am so excited. What are you going to do over here?' They are just so joyous about it.”

Other scenes include a group of penguins holding up holiday greetings in Spanish and Santa taking flight in a hot-air balloon.

Many of the decorations were purchased, but some scenes have incorporated items found around the house, Stewart Nolan said. A patio umbrella is open over a table stacked with gifts. A garden swing is filled with plush toys and Santas. A few feet away Santa poses in an old jalopy that Nicholas Nolan uses when he decorates for Halloween.

“I want to move to adding more things that we just create instead of stuff we buy,” Stewart Nolan said.

Next year her husband wants to build a roller coaster that takes up the whole yard, she said.

Winning the Commercial category was the Tower Burbank at 3900 W. Alameda Ave. Property Manager Greg Pineda leaves creative design up to Charlotte Carpenter Lewis, assistant property manager. The building staff — engineers Jim McNamara, Dario Valle, Richard Riddle and Luis Rodelo, and day porters Lilliana Herrera and Agustin Sanchez — install her ideas.

“I couldn't do it without them,” Carpenter Lewis said.

They came up with a way to attach decorations onto a building that is mostly concrete and glass, she added. The lobby is granite, so they not only had to attach the wall hangings to that material but place them in a way so as not to compromise the building systems.

Outside the building, the glass doors are framed with wreathes and garland. On the corner of Kenwood Street and Alameda, a 10-foot-tall toy soldier she calls Captain Christmas stands at attention. There are snowflakes behind him.

In the lobby is a 12-foot tree, and flying reindeer flank the doors. An 8-foot-tall poinsettia tree stands in the parking elevator lobby.

The public can come into the building during business hours.

Shane Roadnight, 10, won the Youth category with his entry titled “Simply Joyous” at 923 W. Angeleno Ave. It was the first time he submitted an application.

“I've been wanting to enter, and now that I finally did and won, it's cool!” he said.

Several items in the display are handmade, like a wall hanging he made at church and paper cut-outs of Santa and a gingerbread man and woman he decorated with stickers at the city's Breakfast with Santa. A brown Teddy bear sits in a box decorated to look like a sleigh. The front bush is illuminated by a $6 string of lights, a gift from an anonymous donor.

“You don't have to have a lot of money and you can still participate; you can still make it, and you can just help bring joy and make things better,” said his mom, Shannon Douglas.

When judging the entries, the group was all on the same page this year, said Robert Vincent, chairman of the Civic Pride Committee.

“It wasn't about who had the most decorations or the most lights — it was the ones we felt who really put their heart into it.”

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at

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