by nathan oster
Ray and Maria Schwartz, who live at 25 N. Third Street, have been named the winners of the 2013 Greybull Holiday Home Lighting Contest, which was sponsored by the Greybull Area Chamber of Commerce, Ron’s Food Farm and Rocky Mountain Power.
“I’m flabbergasted,” said Ray upon learning of the honor, which came with a $75 cash prize.
Ray and Maria married three years ago, so this was only their second Christmas together.
Last year, their display received an honorable mention in the contest.
Wanting to do better this year, they spent a little extra money and time. Lights were hung on the fence and on the little trees between the sidewalk and the curb. Displays featuring an angel and a reindeer with a sleigh were added, as was a miniature manger scene featuring the baby Jesus that was built by Ray and blessed by the local Catholic priest.
Even with all those enhancements, Ray didn’t think it would be enough to win.
“I told Maria, ‘We’re not rich people; we can’t afford all those big, blow-up things.’ I told her, Maybe, just maybe, we’ll move up to third.’ But she said, second place, Papi. We’re going to get second place.”
Turns out, they did one better. It was their first win — but it might not be their last.
“I think (Maria) wants even more next year,” laughed Ray. “It tickles her whenever people drive by, slow down and look at the lights. I think it makes her proud.”
Maria, who is from Guadalajara, Mexico, doesn’t speak English. Through her husband, she said she was thrilled to take top honors in this year’s contest.
Judges awarded second place, and a $50 prize, to Ron and Elaine Huff, who reside at 424 S. Third St.
Chuck and Tina Spragg, who live at 317 10th Ave. N., placed third, which was worth $25.
Judges awarded a pair of honorable mentions, giving one to Chris Gross (109 Sumac) and the other to Darryl and Linda Cooper (625 Third Ave. N.). Those two homes received turkeys, courtesy of Ron’s Food Farm.
The judges this year also voted on the best new holiday home lighting display, with $100 put up by Paul and Claudine Murdoch, whose home is typically in the run for top honors in the contest. This year they asked that their home not be judged — and put $100 into a pot for new home decorators.
First place in this category went to the Debbie Weidenhaft home at 305 Sixth Ave. S., followed by the Brent and Pattie Hoff residence at 332 Sixth Ave. N. and the Ann Stearns residence at 305 Second Ave. S.
Weidenhaft won $50, the Hoffs $30 and Stearns $20.
Two more honorable mentions — and Ron’s Food Farm turkeys — went to the Mary Crichton residence at 317 First Ave. S. and the Michael and Michelle McColloch residence at 75 Highway 14.