Lewes Lights is proud to announce its 2021 award winners, just in time for Christmas. Judges are chosen very carefully with a few general rules – they cannot live in the City of Lewes, they must be objective and unbiased, and they must have a true love of Christmas. Some judges have a special expertise in category areas, and interpreting the category is left to the judges. Award winners will receive a Lewes Lights special award trophy, but the best award is recognition for their decorating efforts. Lewes Lights organizers would like to thank every single home and business that decorated and made Lewes glow in 2021, especially those that didn’t decorate in the past.
This year, Lewes Lights expanded the Clark Griswold of Lewes competition to the entire 19958 ZIP code area, and this is the only category open for every Lewes-area home. Steve and Lisa Prestipino, who have delighted so many Christmas lovers with their destination light display at Apple Electric, are the perfect judges for this special category. They know how much work goes into putting on a remarkable display and recognized that the homeowners at 31141 Minos Conaway Road did a magnificent job decorating and illuminating their home and property. In Steve’s words, “all of the homes are inspirational!”
Also new for 2021 is the White Christmas Award, and a special local family was asked to choose this winner. Three generations of the Fitzgerald family of Rehoboth Beach worked together to judge as a family project. The grandkids even kept the judging assignment top secret. This was a way to bring some light to the Fitzgeralds, who lost their beloved daughter Stacy, a bright light in the local community whose smile brought joy to so many at Half Full for years, to cancer this fall. Grandfather Keith is a former owner of the Back Porch Café and a collector of local art and treasures. Grandmother Gayle owned the Lilypad Boutique with daughter Paige. Gayle taught for many years in Cape schools, so she created a rubric for judging. According to Gayle, “We had so much fun doing this! Being a retired teacher, of course I had to make up score sheets for us to evaluate each house on our list. I was impressed with the kids' thoughtful consideration and how easily we all came to agreement. Only three houses landed in our ‘awesome’ category, and of the three, we easily chose the winner. So, the Fitzgerald family's winner for the White Christmas Award goes to 358 Pilottown.”
David and June Edwards, proprietors and curators of the Edwards Christmas Village, returned to judge the It’s a Wonderful Life Award, as their history of heartfelt giving and sharing Christmas joy is a beautiful tradition in Lewes. It’s a Wonderful Life was the largest category, with 22 homes entered. According to the Edwards, “Several of the displays were beautiful, including 130 Jefferson, 360 Pilottown Road and 36502 Senators Drive. Any of these were worthy of an award. 360 Pilottown was striking with the lights framing every door, windows and walls. 36502 Senators Drive looked very neat and professional. 121 Kings Highway was also very neat, yet simple, and was a visual delight. We finally decided on 130 Jefferson Ave. due to the use of greenery and ribbons with the lighting. The three elements together just gave a warm, festive and wonderful presentation. The decorations worked so well with the building design that we just felt it spoke of a wonderful life. As we said before, the others were also outstanding, but with any contest, a choice must be made.”
This year’s Candles & Greens Award, which honors the beautiful period homes in Lewes that are decorated and illuminated, goes to 114 Gills Neck Road. Judge Randy Brown, president of the Milton Historical Society, judged with his family and had to drive by the homes in this category four to five times to choose, as they were all so beautifully decorated. Brown said, “Both candles and greens abound on each level of the home at 114 Gills Neck Road. If snow was falling, with the candles flickering in the window, you could picture a horse-driven sleigh pulling up to the property.”
Sean and Meesh Rhodes, creators of the Delaware Hope signs that brought so much goodwill to the Cape Region in 2020, judged the Leg Lamp Award. The Rhodeses are also collectors and purveyors of retro and vintage items, antiques and curiosities at Broadkill Tattoo Company and Gallery in Milton, so they are a perfect choice for this quirky category. Their pick was 219 University Drive: “It had all old-school vibes with the large color lights and classic Xmas blow molds. The placement of the blow molds and lights really covered the entire house.”
The third-grade students at Shields Elementary School voted for their favorite in the Frozen, Frosty and Fun category. According to Principal Kimberly Corbridge, “The kids loved it!” Many children from Shields have been out to see all the lights, but not all families have the time or vehicle access to do the driving tour. So, Lewes Lights organizers provide a slide show with five pictures of each home to make sure every child is included and can participate in voting. This year’s top vote-getter is the enchanting Gnome Home at 304 Seagull Drive, which features a variety of wooden cutout gnomes made by the homeowner and lots of colored lights to make the gnomes stand out. The kids also loved the “Elf” home on Pilottown featuring Buddy, Jovi and their pals.
Finally, the holliest, jolliest street in Lewes, as chosen by Madeleine Overturf, WRDE anchor and managing editor, and Hal the Dal(matian), is East Third Street. This downtown block of Lewes, where city hall is located, had several homes entered in Lewes Lights and many illuminated, beautifully decorated homes that were not registered. Madeleine and Hal’s judging comments are: “Once again, Lewes Lights quite literally sets our city aglow with Christmas spirit. After driving around and seeing all these amazing streets, I must award Jingle Bell Lane to East Third Street. Every single home had some sort of display, whether it be a tree seen in the window or a giant cast of holiday characters in the yard. I could just picture the neighbors talking about how they all would take part, be they summer folks or year-rounders. It felt like a street out of a holiday movie.” Jefferson Avenue was also noted as a favorite. The most special thing about the Jingle Bell Lane Award Is that it’s the only category where homeowners don’t ask to compete. Streets are judged as a whole, and both registered and unregistered homes count in adding to the collective joy.
Lewes Lights runs through Friday, Dec. 31, but some homes and businesses will likely keep decorations up and properties illuminated longer. The free, self-directed tour map is available at LewesLights.org, and organizers are hoping to make this event an annual tradition for many years to come.