NEWBERRY ‒ It’s that time of year again as Christmas is a time of celebration, with festivities, reunions, gift giving and decorations on houses and along streets. While Christmas honors the birth of Christ, the December holiday season encompasses other activities, traditions and beliefs with the common thread of goodwill, compassion and love toward others.

Besides the popular traditional Christmas tree with colorful ornaments and twinkling lights, many people and businesses decorate their homes and buildings with lights, with some expending much time, effort and expense each year. The City of Newberry has joined in the holiday lights decorating tradition with a citywide contest for businesses and residences.

Light has been significant in Christmas celebrations for centuries and candles were lit to “signify the light of Jesus.” The tradition of electrical lights on trees and houses was first introduced to the holiday world in 1882 by Edward Johnson, a friend and partner of light-bulb inventor Thomas Edison. Lit fires presented a hazard, and Johnson’s idea was to replace the candles with a string of colored electric lights, which he did with eight bulky, pear-shaped bulbs on a single wire. The idea didn't really catch on in America until the 1920s when General Electric’s pre-assembled lights became more accessible and cheaper.

Over the years as electric and lighting technology advanced, so did the idea of creating a festive atmosphere in communities with a variety of lights to create a magical wonderland. People often spend weeks decorating the exterior of their houses and yards for others to enjoy. Towns decorate their Main Street areas for the month and businesses decorate their shops in the holiday spirit.

Alachua, High Springs and Newberry all decorated their towns in their unique style and each held a tree lighting and Christmas parade with visits from Santa Claus. Last year in 2020, Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe kicked off “Light Up Newberry,” a contest for best building decoration for both businesses and residences. With the Covid restrictions in place, Jordan knew the contest was a community activity for the season that still maintained the safety precautions of social distancing. This year, “Light Up Newberry” entries were viewed by voters and a committee with the top three winners in each of three categories announced Dec. 19.

In the Business Front category, third place went to Glanzer Realty, second place went to Newberry Ace Hardware and first place went to Bosshardt Realty Service. In the Business Window category: third place went to Sugar, Refined, second place went to Rebecca's Hair Studio, and first place went to Beauty & Pain Solutions Massage. Finally, in the Residential category: third place went to Jason and Haley Ryan, second place went to Logan Euler, and first place went to Shawn and Angie Walker.

#     #     #

Email rcarson@