Lights winners (copy)

Gregg Rhame, his wife, Pam, and his daughters, Emily (center) and Ash, show off their Christmas display which was picked as last year's winner of the Grand Holiday Displays feature.

Though many will put the lion’s share of their time this coming week into turkey and fixings, a special group will be focused on Christmas decorations by week’s end.

They’re folks like Gregg Rhame of Garrisonville and his family, who use all manner of lights, decorations and displays to turn their houses into glowing bursts of Christmas cheer.

Because people enjoy piling into cars and visiting these cheery holiday displays, each year I put together a list of the best-decorated houses in our area.

Now in its 29th year, I call the column feature Grand Holiday Displays, and it comes together each year only with help from you, my loyal readers.

From now until noon Friday, Dec. 6, I need kind folks to get in touch and tell me about the best and most elaborately decorated houses they’ve seen or know about in our region.

While any holiday decorations are wonderful, just one string of lights and a single Santa cutout won’t get a home onto this list.

Instead, I’m looking to find the biggest, brightest and most bountiful holiday house and yard displays out there. I need brightly glowing lights, countless holiday figures in the yard, an elaborate computerized display or some other features that will make people drive over and take a look.

The area to be covered in the listing includes Fredericksburg, the town of Colonial Beach and Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George counties. And because they’re sort of grandfathered in, I’ll leave in a few houses that have been on the list for years.


To nominate a house for consideration, just send me an email with the address of a suggested house, or quickly pen me a letter. (See the infobox for contact info.) Please don’t call, because I won’t take any suggestions by phone.

You can nominate your own house, your neighbor’s house or one you see while you’re out and about.

Each nomination needs to include the home’s address, a short description of its display and basic directions on how to get there. It helps if you can provide the name of the people who live in the house and a way to reach them by phone or email.

Attaching a digital photo to a nomination can increase its chances of making the list.

For a new addition to the list, there’s one additional requirement: the display must be nominated by several different people. That’s a good indication it’s something special.

If you’re not sure a house belongs on the list, ask yourself if it’s something you’d recommend to a friend to travel to for a look-see on a holiday night. If the answer is yes, please send me an email about it.


Each year, it helps me immensely if you “regulars”—owners of houses with amazing displays—can send me an email telling me if your display is up again this year.

If you’re a regular and we haven’t connected yet, please send me an email indicating if you’re decorating this year, and also note any significant additions or new features. As always, please include your name and address, as things can get confusing with more than 100 homeowners in the mix.


As I said, you have until noon on Friday, Dec. 6, to submit nominations. That’s a hard deadline, because by the next afternoon I’ll start my journey to look at all the nominated houses.

As I cruise by on Dec. 7, 8 and 9, nominated houses need to have their displays working from dusk until 11 p.m. or so. I go out to look at each newly nominated home to make sure it’s list-worthy.

I’ll share the completed list of Grand Holiday Displays in a column on Sunday, Dec. 15.

And then, on Wednesday, Dec. 18, I’ll feature the home of this year’s Grand Holiday Displays winner.

Last year, the Rochelle Gardner Prize went to the Rhame family in Garrisonville. The honor is named for a Stafford County woman who loved to decorate her house for multiple holidays. Cancer took her a few years ago, and her creative displays are missed by me and many, many others.

So all you light-list elves, please get to work, and tell me where the coolest decorated houses are in our region. I’ll use your suggestions to build this year’s list.

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Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415

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