Who has the best holiday lighting display in Eureka Springs? Ask neighbors who live on East Mountain and they'll tell you: we do.
One reason: Nancy and Greg Bartlett, who live on Oakridge Street off Harvey, the first right off East Mountain Road from E. Van Buren. The Barletts' extensive holiday decorations inspired their neighbors to start putting out displays, resulting in a first place award for best street the past two years, Nancy said. This year, the categories are best business and best residence, which the Bartletts are shooting for. They start early: Greg starts putting decorations at the end of September, Nancy said. By mid-October, he is wrapping trees with lights, which are tested after it rains. Then he puts inflatable figures on the roof.
"Now we're getting the ground stuff done," she said.
Two doors down, Maureen and Richard Gorman have a herd of white deer roaming their yard. On East Mountain itself, Rusty Windle has set up "Windle Wonderland," which includes a 12-foot-tall wooden reindeer, scores of holiday figures and 25,000 to 30,000 lights.
"Over the years I've won first place three times," Windle said. "I add to it each time. It's a sickness -- I inherited it from my mother and my grandmother, who were both both big lighting people."
The Bartletts are working under a handicap: in the past, their white Miata would be decorated and parked out front, with Santa waving at passers-by. But Greg hit a deer in his other vehicle, so is using the Miata for transportation. Santa in his sports car will be out in time for the judging.
"My husband loves Christmas," Nancy said. "Sometimes he puts on a Santa suit and hands out candy canes."
Entries in the 'Bling in the Springs' holiday lighting contest are due by Dec. 9, with each entrant receiving a sign for their yard. Judges will check out the displays until Dec. 14, when the winners will be announced. And in the end, it's not about winning.
"It gives you a kind of joy when you look at Christmas lights," Nancy said. "It makes you feel good."
The Bling in the Springs Holiday Lighting Contest is sponsored by the City Advertising and Promotion Commission. Entry forms are available at the CAPC office, 121 E. Van Buren, Ste. B (behind The Quarter).