Animatronic reindeer, electric snowmen and lots of illuminated Santas
set the scene Sunday night at the kickoff for one neighborhood's
annual Christmas decoration contest.
About 40 adults, accompanied by several boisterous children, met
for the second annual "Cider on the Corner" event, where they shared
cookies, coffee and hot apple cider before taking a walk together to
gaze at holiday decorations in Costa Mesa's Halecrest and Hall of
Decorated homes featured designs that ranged from simple strings
of lights to more elaborate schemes that included props like
old-fashioned Santa sleighs and a mock-up of a toy store.
Neighbors and others attending the walk vote for their favorite
homes in six categories: originality, humor, best religious design,
most elegant, best design that only used lights and best
children's-themed home. Voting is scheduled to continue through
Last year's winner for best children's design was the Murray Lane
home of Dennis and Michelle Clark, who seemed poised to defend their
crown with an elaborate display that included an illuminated Nativity
scene, a Santa train and a design that transformed the home's front
window into a toy-store display. Among the bushes at the front of the
Clarks' home were several tiny models that included ancient
Bethlehem, a Camp Grizzly full of Christmas bears and an ice-fishing
gnome. The display has grown to include more and more features over
past holiday seasons.
"I started out with just the nativity, and it's bloomed," Michelle
Another neighbor who had several decorations was Scott Uhach,
whose Loren Lane home featured a large, inflatable Grinch in a Santa
suit and a 1950s model of Santa in his sleigh on the roof. He and
some of his neighbors prowl Internet auctions and after-Christmas
sales to find decorations.
"You've just got to watch out every year," Uhach said. "The
clearance sales. That's the only way to go -- day after Christmas,
everything's 50% off."
The event wasn't just about the light show, neighbors said. A big
part of the night was helping to build stronger ties between
"It's a pretty good crowd; we always get people we've never met
before," observed neighbor Leslie Connell, who helped organize the
walk. "We get people that just moved in, and that's a good thing,
because it means they want to meet everybody."