COLUMBIA — Judging for the Parks and Recreation Department's annual Central City Holiday Lights contest will begin Sunday.
In previous years, the Parks Department has hand-picked a staff of judges to evaluate holiday lights on criteria such as artistic quality, balance and theme, recreation specialist Bill Thompson said. But things have slightly changed this year.
"The newness is now we are getting more people involved in judging," Thompson said. "Anyone can be a judge, and you don't have to live in the area that you are judging."
Judges will consist of a number of different two- to four-member teams. Each team is assigned one of the eight contest areas and is expected to judge according to a list of criteria. Each home's decorations are then assigned a number of points, and the judges will use the points to determine a first, second and third place for their area.
The contest is an 18-year tradition. Thompson said he has seen extravagant designs over the years.
"There has been a variety of very tasteful decorations," Thompson said. "One of the most interesting houses I've seen was this house that had Christmas trees in every window, lights and a transmitter outside playing music."
The boundaries for the contest are:
- As far north as Business Loop 70.
- As far south as Ash Street and Park Avenue.
- As far east as College Avenue.
- As far west as West Boulevard.
The downtown and Bear Creek properties of the Columbia Housing Authority are eligible.
Those wanting to be a judge for the contest can meet at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Armory Sports Center. An awards reception will be held for winners and the rest of the community at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Douglass High School Gym.
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