Inaugural Light Up Tallmadge! contest is a success
As of Dec. 9, there isn’t a single Christmas tree in George Matthews’ home.
That’s quite unusual for a man who had 25 trees displayed last Christmas, but of course, this isn’t a usual year.
Rather than stuff his home with decorations, Matthews decided this year to focus more on the outside of his house, so that everyone could enjoy the display instead of just close friends and family.
“It’s something I’ve been doing for a few years and it’s a project I do with my son, but this year is special and I took it a little further,” Matthews said.
Their efforts paid off on Dec. 5, when Matthews and his son Tyler, 22, were named the winners of the inaugural Light Up Tallmadge! holiday lights competition during the city’s virtual tree lighting.
“This is Tallmadge’s first year and it’s my first year entering a competition like this so I’m one for one. I better quit while I’m ahead!” Matthews said.
Matthews was one of 48 residents to enter into the competition, said Chamber of Commerce President Meghan Thompson, who originally only expected 15 to 20 houses to participate. Matthews, along with the second and third place winners, each received extravagant gift baskets sponsored by the local business community.
"We hope this tradition continues next year in 2021 and we're looking forward to it," Thompson said.
"What a year in the city of Tallmadge and across the nation. Who'd ever think we'd still be standing here in a pandemic, lighting a tree of hope where families can gather. It's truly a blessing," Mayor David Kline said. "Within the pandemic, the lights give us so much pleasure."
For Matthews, whose home is located at 809 Bentley Place Blvd., winning the competition has a special meaning because his father, John “Jack” Matthews, always loved his decorations and would bring his retiree friends to visit the home. Jack is currently sick with cancer and in Hospice.
“It’s a big deal to my family and to my dad, so it’s dedicated to him. It’s always highlight for him and it’s taken on meaning as times gone on,” he said. “This year it’s about bringing out the joy and people really need it this year. This is a perfect year to let loose.”
Matthews will now move forward to compete against for the best lights against the winners in Rootstown (4420 Wilson Ave., Ravenna), Brimfield (1935 Cyprus Circle), Suffield (judging on Dec. 12) and Atwater (winners announced on Dec. 13).
Tallmadge runners up include second place, 1154 Broadview Road; third place, 287 Kensington Park Drive; fourth place, 176 North Avenue; and fifth place, 1069 Beechwood Drive.
Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.