Lighting up the holidays; City announces holiday lights map contest winners
By Taylor Hale
STEVENS POINT – Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza and Melinda Whelihan helped spread a little joy this holiday season, as the duo presented awards on Dec. 29 to the three homeowners receiving the most votes in the city’s first holiday lighting contest.
Garnering more than 1,400 votes, the lighting contest’s winners received gifts and a visit from the mayor. Voting ran mid-November through Christmas Day, giving locals a chance to pick their favorite light displays posted on the city hosted light map.
“This is just another way we are trying to bring the community together,” said Wiza. “With COVID keeping so many apart, this was a way for people to have a chance to see some lights and have some normalcy.”
Whelihan Glass backed the contest and donated a $500 Lowes gift card for first place. Whelihan said that she is thrilled to help support the contest and see it as a way to bring joy to families.
“We thought we would do a gift certificate because this way, people can buy more lights,” Whelihan laughed. “I thought we’re not having a Christmas parade or anything, so this is something to end the year on a high note.”
Third Place – The Heibler’s Winter Wonderland
The Heibler’s Winter Wonderland, 1725 Reserve Street, was the third place winner; homeowners are Ron and Katy Heibler.
The couple wowed passersby with their wintery display and festive inflatables. The pair said they didn’t sink their teeth into holiday decorating until last year, but the hobby has quickly grown. Their decor’s centerpiece is a 10-foot tall inflatable snowman, endearingly named “Thicky Nicky” by their kids.
“We got him last year for literally like $7,” Katy Heibler explained. “As soon as we had her set up, we realized we couldn’t just have one, and it’s been growing since.”
Third place received a $50 gift card for the Bottle Stop in Stevens Point.
Second Place – Byrumand Rustic Christmas Ranch
Byrumand Rustic Christmas Ranch, 1793 Ole River Road, took second place, created by Amanda Byrumand and her family.
The Byrumand Christmas Ranch was reminiscent of festive Hallmark movies of days gone by, with tinsel and garland covering the home and barn area from top to bottom. Family members noted that decorating could take up to two months, and they leave the decor up until February to get the most out of their work.
Second place received a $100 Portage County gift certificate.
First Place – Weiler Wild Winter Lights
Weiler Wild Winter Lights, 1728 Willow Springs Drive, by Daniel Weiler, took first place.
Weiler’s light display dazzled the community, giving him the most votes along with a $500 Lowes gift card. This well-known light show is synchronized with music, offering breathtaking visuals to welcome in the new year.
Wiza said that the city plans to continue the lights map contest next year, hopefully forming a new tradition. City staff plans to see the project grow and gain public support.
To view the light map, visit storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/1603f4c5476143358668c4c28d2aa412.