With a change to its rules and categories, organizers of the Lights, Sights, and Holiday Nights Holiday Decoration Contest are hopeful more residents will deck their halls this season. 

The contest, now in its 21st year, is organized by the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department with the aim of spreading holiday cheer throughout the city.

Organizers are shaking things up with new categories and changes in who can enter for the 2017 contest. 

This year, any nominated display is eligible to be crowned a winner. In previous years, past contestants would receive an honorable mention and were placed in the contest's Holiday Hall of Fame.

“Staff felt that past winners should be able to continue to participate," said Jason Davie, Recreation and Parks Department recreation supervisor. "At the same time, we needed to encourage new participation."

To boost participation, contest organizers created three new categories.

The first pays homage to a popular, Christmas-themed comedy, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Called the Clark Griswold category, homes in this division should have displays that contain spectacular lighting effects or incorporate motion lights and/or music or animatronics. They should be akin to the home decorated by the movie's character Clark Griswold.

Judging for the Griswold division will focus on the amount of construction involved in the display, the brightness, liveliness and detail put into the display.

“If you have the means to have an elaborate display, we encourage you to participate in the Clark Griswold category,” Davie said.

The second category is named for the iconic 20th-century painter Norman Rockwell.

Rockwell was famous for his idyllic depictions of Americana.

Homes in the Norman Rockwell category should have classic and elegant displays that accentuate and coordinate with the beauty and elegance of the building.

“Judging will focus on the tastefulness and beauty of the display,” Davie said.

The final new category is called Simply Christmas.

Nominees for this group should be simply decorated full of the Christmas spirit, Davie said.

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“The amount of lights and decorations won’t be as important as the sense of the Christmas spirit that the display conveys,” he explained.

Awards also will be given to the overall best display that is a new entry this year and to a Holiday Hall of Fame winner chosen from contestants who have participated in previous years. 

Any member of the community can nominate a decorated home, business, storefront or church for the Lights, Sights, Holiday Nights committee to review and select winners.

Each nomination will be included in the Holiday Hall of Fame Tour map, which will be released later this month so residents can see the Christmas displays. 

“You can nominate yourself or any home or business you see in Santa Maria. There is no cost to participate or to nominate,” Davie said. 

To nominate a home or business, church or other organization, email a photograph and the address of the display to jblanco@cityofsantamaria.org. Organizers would also like each entry to be nominated for a specific category.

The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Dec. 8.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.

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City Government Reporter