Holidays in Philly

Why Mayfair neighbors compete in a ‘Clark Griswold extravaganza’ of Christmas lights

Neighbors and businesses are vying for prizes, a lawn sign… and bragging rights, in a contest dreamt up by the Mayfair Civic and Business associations.

A decorated home in Mayfair and the sign the neighbors stand to win if they have one of three of the best decorated houses.

A decorated home in Mayfair and the sign the neighbors stand to win if they have one of three of the best decorated houses.

It’s really about bragging rights. And a lawn sign. Maybe a few small prizes. But mostly bragging rights.

Come nightfall, some 150 homes and businesses Northeast Philadelphia’s Mayfair sparkle, twinkle and shine this week as part of the neighborhood’s biggest-yet Christmas Decoration Contest. A collaboration between the Mayfair Civic Association and the Mayfair Business Association, the three best-decorated homes and businesses in the neighborhood learn who gets to claim those bragging rights (and prizes, and sign) on Monday.

“Residents that may be on the fence about leaving Mayfair now feel unified,” Mayfair Civic Association President Donny Smith said about the contest. “They get this feeling like, ‘this is a great neighborhood. This is why we moved here.'”

A decorated home in Mayfair on the 3300 block of Wellington Street.

A decorated home in Mayfair on the 3300 block of Wellington Street.

Anna Orso/Billy Penn

Here’s how it works: Organizers have named 12 judges (because, of course, 12 days of Christmas) who’re tasked with going around the neighborhood, checking out each home and business and scoring them on a scale of one to 12. Smith explained that the judges, community and business leaders in the neighborhood, score like this: “one is the equivalent of a window cling, 12 is like being a Clarke Griswold extravaganza.”

Each home and business that is participating in the contest is marked on this map, that you can also use if you make your way to the neighborhood to check out the lights (though, I can attest it’s not hard to find great decorations on homes and businesses if you just aimlessly drive around the neighborhood):

It’s the third year the Civic Association has put on the decoration contest, and Smith said it’s the first time local businesses will be recognized for their roles in providing Christmas cheer.

Once the scores from the judges are tallied — many of them went around the neighborhood Thursday night to score the homes — a list of top 10 homes will be published Monday morning, then a list of the top three who will win the lawn signs, small prizes donated by local businesses and, yes, all of the bragging rights. The top three businesses will also be named.

A home decorated for Christmas in Mayfair.

A home decorated for Christmas in Mayfair.

Anna Orso/Billy Penn

Smith has big dreams for the event that’s still young. He hopes that one day, businesses can come together and shuttle residents, visitors and passersby around the neighborhood to check out each and every home and business that has decorated for Christmas. But those plans, he said, are down the road.

For now, Smith says the event isn’t just a fun thing for neighbors to do to compete with one another, but he said it brings visitors to Mayfair and allows people to be proud of the way the neighborhood looks when new folks come around during the holiday season.

“People put a lot of time and effort into their displays, but they also like the idea of being on the map and people checking out their place,” Smith said, “which is what it’s all about.”

A home decorated in Mayfair for the holidays.

A home decorated in Mayfair for the holidays.

Anna Orso/Billy Penn

For more information, check out the Mayfair Civic Association’s Facebook page.

Want some more? Explore other Holidays in Philly stories.

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