Merry and Bright Holiday Home Challenge 2020 winners announced

COOKEVILLE – Holiday decorating can pay off with more than smiles from passersby. Just ask the winners of the fourth annual Merry and Bright Holiday Home Challenge.

The contest, presented by Cookeville Leisure Services and the Upper Cumberland Association of Realtors, had the most entries to date with 23 homes. Cash prizes were awarded in four categories: Classic Christmas, Merry and Bright, Holly Jolly and Griswold. First place received $100; second place, $50; and honorable mention, $25. All competitors were included in a Tour of Lights map for the community.

“I am very pleased with the number of homes in this year’s contest,” Sally Herren, Leisure Services recreation programmer, said. “My family enjoyed grabbing a hot chocolate and driving around doing the Tour of Lights. I would like to congratulate all the winners.”

Carol Glover of UCAR said, “Honestly, it was the hardest year we have had to choose the winners. When you stop and view the entire display, all you can think is, what a lot of time, work and patience these people have put into their showcases. We are all winners just to be able to sit in our cars and take it all in.”


First Place – Robert and Charlene Sealy of 2530 Zeb Warren Road. This home gets to the heart of classic decorating with a host of hand-crafted wooden pieces, including a train that moves along tracks, Santa in his sleigh, a nativity scene and a variety of animals.

Second Place – Mark Swallows of 1431 S. Jefferson Ave. This home has countless lights and decorations that extend beyond the driveway to the barn behind the house. Highlights include Santa and his brightly lit team of reindeer and Clark Griswold (a character from “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation”) hanging from the roof.

Honorable Mention – Christina Maki of 2535 Watermill Road. Clear lights line the roof and windows for a simple, traditional look. Santa and Mrs. Claus sit on the front porch.


First Place – Matthew and Leslie Reep of 1661 New Hope Dr. This property has a Christmas feel with the brains of technology. The entire house and a host of yard decorations illuminate in flashing colors synchronized to holiday tunes on 87.9 FM

Second Place – Travis and Tonya Lee of 4536 Ewing Dr., Baxter. LED Christmas trees, candy canes and lights on the roof and porch railing are synchronized to holiday music. Viewers may tune into 87.9 FM to enjoy the show.

Honorable Mention – Trisha Collins of 3930 Olyvia Ct. A fantastic lightshow awaits passersby. The word “joy” and other yard decorations flash along with holiday music on 88.7 FM.


First Place – Buddy and Amy Pearson of 5884 Ditty Road. This joyous home has all the things that make Christmas fun and festive – bright lights, snowmen, candy canes, spiral trees and much more.

Second Place – Jim Keagle of 463 The Lane Road. This delightful property glows with Christmas joy. The house is lined with colorful lights, as are the trees, shrubbery, fence and other buildings.

Honorable Mention – Jennifer Bauer of 365 Westgate Dr. This home exudes a special charm with long porch columns that look like candy canes, bold touches of red and green and an amazing reflection on the lake.  


Winner – Junior and Peggye Ayers of 160 Joy Lane. This home is a Christmas wonderland of color and whimsical fun with lights galore and a host of inflatable characters. Clark Griswold would be proud.

Honorable Mention – Christopher Clark of 453 Hermitage Ave. Twinkling lights, numerous animated yard decorations and Santa in a small hot air balloon come together for a fun and spectacular display.


A new feature of this year’s contest was the Best Newcomer Award. The winner was Kevin Friedberg of 1155 N. Franklin Ave. This home had the feel of a Christmas tree farm, with holiday music, colorful lights and nutcrackers adding to the magic. Honorable Mention went to James Kojak of 103 Eighteen Grand Place for numerous colorful displays and lighted trees all around the home. These newcomers received $50 and $25, respectively.

“We had lots of newcomers, and everyone really went all out with the decorating and lights, making the competition very tough,” Libby Capps of UCAR said. “I want to congratulate all the contestants and thank them for their hard work.”

A People’s Choice social media contest is underway on the Cookeville Leisure Services Department’s Facebook page. The holiday home with the most “likes” by Dec. 14 at noon wins $50.

The Tour of Lights map that lists all 23 participants in the Merry and Bright Holiday Home Challenge is available HERE. Paper copies may be picked up at Cookeville City Hall. For more information, call 931-520-4386.

“If you missed out on this year’s contest, we encourage you to start planning for next year,” Herren said. “Help us make this wonderful tradition grow.”

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