HURRICANE, W.Va. — On Dec. 18, the City of Hurricane publicly announced the winners of its 2020 Christmas Decorating Contest via Facebook.
The winner of the traditional category, which boasted classic Christmas decor, was 1215 Forest Drive in Hurricane. The Crazy Inflatables winner, which crammed more than the requisite five inflatables onto its lawn, was 4070 Farmington Drive. And the winner of the Clark Griswold category, which is inspired by the National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” movie, was 43 Beaver Drive.
For Griswold winner and longtime Hurricane resident Robin Crislip, winning $100 in gift cards was not her motivation for entering the contest.
“I enjoy putting up every light and putting smiles on every single person’s face,” the mother of two says. “And I feel blessed to do that every year.”
Crislip has been decorating the exterior of her home for many years.
“I decorated for years for my children, who are now grown,” she recalls. “We always had lots of people over the years drive by and take pictures, long before the contest in Hurricane began. I solely did it for the enjoyment of my neighbors and others.”
Crislip’s penchant for Christmas decorating came from her father.
“My father Robert Pauley, who is now 82, has always decorated his home with thousands of lights,” she explains. “He never did it for a contest, though he did manage to win his city contest three years in a row.”
She adds, “As a child, I always had a fairytale Christmas. Now I am carrying on my family’s tradition.”
Hurricane’s Christmas Decorating Contest has become something of a local tradition already. Starting in 2018 as part of the city’s 130th anniversary celebration, the contest has encouraged residents within city limits to spread holiday cheer by ornamenting the exterior of their homes.
Contest entrants, who must be amateur decorators, simply complete a one-page form online and return it to the city by mid-December.
“I like to enter the Clark Griswold category because of my love for lights,” Crislip said. “Definitely, the more the merrier!”
In December, the merry lights on Crislip’s house could be seen from Teays Valley Road.
“My husband works a lot of hours, so I do all of the decorating myself,” Crislip said. “We add music and greet each person who drives by our home from our front porch.”
All of these special touches earned Crislip’s home the coveted first-place spot for the past two years.
Three individual judges, who are selected by the City of Hurricane, grade the contest entries based on a rubric that is provided to them. The City then compares the scores of all three judges to determine a winner for each category.
Residents of Hurricane and even out-of-county folk made the rounds of Hurricane in late December to check out the 21 contest entries in the Christmas Decorating Contest. It was a way for people to get into the Christmas spirit and to see the extent to which their community members had gone to spread holiday cheer.
For Robin Crislip, celebrating the season in a big way is what she has always done and what she will continue to do.
“My parents always taught me that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, so we should light up our world in celebration as much as we can.”