The Committee for the Beautification of Lake Geneva pulled off a beauty of a surprise this year.

We think it was — in a word — beautiful.

The private organization known for promoting aesthetic civic improvements gets together once a year to pick the best Christmas holiday season decorations in Lake Geneva.

It is a special occasion when homeowners and businesses are recognized with awards. That is, provided they meet one qualification: They are from Lake Geneva.

And only Lake Geneva.

Until now.

This year, the beautification committee reached outside its usual sphere of interest and bestowed an award — for the first time ever — on a municipality other than Lake Geneva.

The village of Williams Bay was honored for its own impressive exhibition of holiday lights. This was no cheap freebie. With help from participating businesses and others, Williams Bay’s downtown and lakefront glowed like a picturesque Christmas scene inside a snow globe.

Members of the beautification committee could not resist driving to Williams Bay and taking in the sights. And when it came time to hand out beautification awards, the group rightfully honored Williams Bay’s contribution to the festive atmosphere that existed around Geneva Lake during the holiday season.

Williams Bay civic leaders were so pleasantly surprised, they could hardly believe they were being invited to Lake Geneva to receive an award.

It was a small gesture that made a big statement: We are one community on this lake.

Lake Geneva, Williams Bay, Fontana, Walworth, Linn – we could go on. Look around, friends. This is one place. We all enjoy it, we all sustain it, we all share it.

The beautification committee deserves commendation and gratitude for reminding us.

It would be nice if other community leaders would exhibit the same spirit of neighborly cooperation more often. If they would, we might make strides when it comes to such issues as protecting the environment.

The politicians currently quibbling over the nickels and dimes needed to support the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency would do well to take a cue from the Committee for the Beautification of Lake Geneva. This place is at its best when we focus on what binds us together rather than what separates us.

If we tried hard enough, we might even find new ways to work together, perhaps uniting the many school districts, public safety departments and business advocacy groups that operate around here.

Imagine the possibilities.

Regional cooperation and neighborly goodwill all around Geneva Lake. How beautiful would that be?

The Regional News editorial board consists of General Manager Robert Ireland, Editor Scott Williams and Business Manager Sue Hinske.

Want to join?

The Lake Geneva Regional News is seeking a member of the community to join us as a volunteer member of our editorial board. If you are an informed private citizen who can meet once a week to help us consider local issues and stake out editorial positions, please contact Scott Williams at 262-248-8096 or email