The Lake Geneva Beautification Committee has ended a 16-year holiday tradition of recognizing the best-decorated places in the community. The committee has decided not to conduct its annual Mayor’s Holiday Decoration Awards this year, citing a lack of interest in the number of residents willing to participate.
For the past 16 years, the awards recognized area homeowners, businesses and others with the best decorations for the holiday season.
Grace Eckland, a member of the beautification committee, said although many residents decorate their homes, not many contacted the committee about wanting to be involved in the contest this year.
“We found more and more people are decorating, but they’re not telling us about it,” Eckland said. “They’re not calling and saying, ‘Hey, come look at how great we are.’”
Most contestants either were nominated by neighbors or by committee members traveling throughout the community looking for decorated homes to be recruited for the contest.
Eckland, however, said that approach was time consuming.
“We would get in the van and drive all over,” she said.
The committee traditionally presented the awards each year during the first Lake Geneva City Council meeting in January in four categories: residential whimsical, residential traditional, small business and large business.
“It was an opportunity for everyone to get involved regardless of what their resources were,” Eckland said.
Jackie Kuehl and her husband, Harry Kuehl, won an award last year in the residential whimsical category. Jackie Kuehl said she and her husband decorate their home for the holidays each year, but they have never done it to receive an award.
“It’s just something we did because we enjoy it,” she said.
Dianna and Tony Holbrook also are past winners in the residential whimsical category.
“We were so proud to win,” Dianna Holbrook said.
Holbrook indicated that the couple had not planned to decorate their home this year due to health reasons.
ShoShoo Fun Footwear received an award in the small business category last year. Angela Carlson, manager at ShoShoo Footwear, said she is proud that the business received the award.
“It was a big deal to win,” she said.
Carlson said ShoShoo is decorated for the Lake Geneva Business Improvement District’s window display contest. For residents, she hopes another contest can be started.
“There’s still a competition for the businesses, but it would be nice if they filled that void for the residents,” she said.
Eckland said the goal of the defunct contest was to encourage people to decorate for the holidays, which she thinks was accomplished.
“I think we made an impact in encouraging people to express themselves with their decorations,” she said. “When people see one house in their neighborhood doing it, they want to chime in.”
Eckland said she is not certain if the committee will try to resurrect the contest in future holiday seasons.
“I think it’s too early to tell,” she said. “This is the first year we have not done it, but you can never say never.”
In place of the contest, the beautification committee has decorated trees on the plaza outside the Riviera in downtown Lake Geneva.
Eckland said the plaza is decorated with about 15,200 holiday lights, which cost the committee about $4,800. Funding for the holiday lights came from the committee’s brick-sale program and community donations.
Eckland said decorating the plaza could become a new holiday tradition. She also would like to have the trees lighted throughout the year.
“I would like to have them up year-round,” she said. “That is something we would have to talk about.”