Twenty-four Santa Clara families spiked their electric bills in December as they lit up their neighborhoods with front yard holiday decorations and vied for recognition in the City’s 2020 Holiday Home Decorating Contest, sponsored by the Cultural Commission.
The Best of the Best contest winner was the Chavez family display at 345 Sloat Ct., on view at least through Jan. 10, 2021.
“We love decorating and bringing happiness to neighbors, especially this year when it’s been hard on so many. It’s a joy seeing others take delight in the display, watching them take pictures of their kids and creating their own memories of the season,” said homeowner Tom Chavez. “Visiting other displays and enjoying their creativity is great fun for us, too.”
It is the family’s tenth win since they first entered the contest in 2001.
“While it’s fun to get an award, we don’t do it for the contest. Some years we don’t even enter,” said Chavez.
The display typically adds about $125 to their electric bill. Chavez anticipates it will be less this year since they are transitioning to LED lights.
“Having a holiday display in Santa Clara is the best for two reasons,” said Chavez. “The contest gives us an incentive to get our display up in time to enter and do our best, and the amazing electricity rates from Silicon Valley Power mean it doesn’t cost a fortune to do it.”
Chavez, his wife, Peggy, and their five kids, ages 14 to 23, all pitch in the day after Halloween to start setting up the display. They pull stored decorations from the garage and add new ones.
The kids helped design, cut and paint a waving Santa, Christmas trees to mask the garage, a snowman, elves, mini-houses and cartoon characters.
They upgrade items found during the annual, city-wide trash pickup.
“We’ve been able to repurpose and improve discarded reindeer, a lamp-post and an animated stack of presents,” said Chavez.
The first display at the two-story Chavez home was a simple grouping of reindeer that “disappeared” one night. Nowadays, metal-frame reindeer graze on the lawn.
The central focus on the balcony is a blow-mold Nativity scene with angels. Bushes are colored with net lights that switch from multicolor to all white, in time with music. Trees are wrapped with lights and ornaments.
Their older son is lead electrician — building circuits, smoothing out the LEDs and creating controllers to synchronize the display to music.
“We have quite a fan following,” said Chavez. “Folks come by year after year and tell us their stories of bringing family or friends.”
They receive thank you notes that Chavez says “are very touching and are definitely part of what encourages us to do this as a family every year.”
Cultural Commission chair Louis Samara and commissioner Candida Diaz picked the Best of the Best winner and the Most Festive winner from each of the six City districts.
“It was really difficult to choose winners when we had so many worthy entries in each district,” said Diaz. “The thought and creativity that goes into each entry is spectacular.”
“We would like to thank the community for participating in our contest,” she continued. “We hope that this is one small way to bring lightness into a challenging time. We encourage residents to drive by and visit these wonderful homes and see their beautiful decorations.”
View the list of entrants and the winners at https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/government/boards-commissions/cultural-commission/decorating-contests.