Annual competition takes place Nov. 25 to Nov. 30

Cookeville – It’s a beaut Clark. 

Cousin Eddie was right when he said that to Clark Griswold in the Christmas classic National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. The duo gazed upon the Griswold home covered from top to bottom in bright Christmas lights. For those inspired, Putnam County holds its own Christmas light competition every year, known as the Merry and Bright Holiday Home Challenge (MBHHC). 

The annual competition, available only to single-family residences, takes place Nov. 25 to Nov. 30 so unravel those lights (just a little knot, shouldn’t be a problem) and plug in the lighted Santa Claus before 4 p.m. Nov. 20. It’s your time to shine.

The contest was created by Cookeville’s Leisure Services (CLS) and the Upper Cumberland Association of Realtors (UCRA) to bolster Cookeville’s Christmas spirit. 

“It has become a tradition again to see all the decorations and holiday spirit displayed by so many,” said Libby Capps with UCRA. “It’s great to see others out enjoying the lights, especially the little ones. It brings the small-town feel back.” 

There are rules if you choose to accept them.

“To qualify, homes must be within a 15-mile radius of Cookeville’s Historic Courthouse Square,” said the City of Cookeville in a statement. “The contest costs $10 to enter. Judging for the contest takes place Nov. 25 – Nov. 30. All homes entered in the contest must have their decoration lights on from 5 – 10 p.m. on those nights. If the lights aren’t lit for the judges, it won’t be considered for an award.”

Judges will look at the homes across various categories and decide on a winner. Those who outshine the competition will win $50 (perfect for that gift card you forgot to buy your nephew’s cousin-in-law). 

Do whatever it takes to win. No mercy.

Nah, just have fun, it’s Christmas.

“The work and dedication that is put into each display, blows me away!” says Sally Herren, Recreation Programmer at Leisure Services. “I hope the Merry and Bright contest brings joy to everyone in our town.”

The judges will then let the public decide the “People’s Choice Award” with an additional social media contest held Dec. 4 to Dec. 8.

“Pictures of the homes will be shared on the Facebook page of the Cookeville Leisure Services Department,” said CLS. “The photo with the most likes by 1 p.m. Dec. 8 wins.”

If entered in the contest, homes are also included on a Tour of Lights map and shared with the community. Maps will be available in December and can be picked up from the Leisure Services Office or City Hall.

Maps will also be available online HERE.

For more information, call the Cane Creek Recreation Center at 931-526-7393 or the Leisure Services office at 931-520-4386.

Photo courtesy of freepik.

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