There's no need for a long, drawn out recount of ballots cast for The Dispatch's annual areawide Christmas lighting contest.
Entries in Merrifield were runaway winners in the residential and commercial divisions this year.
The lights of Dan and Virgie Heath attracted the most attention in the residential division. The Heaths' display at 22336 County Road 3 is a mile north of Merrifield on County Road 3.
In downtown Merrifield, Pier 25 Restaurant on Highway 25 won first place in the commercial category.
For the past 10 years, Dan Heath has put up lights at his home in Merrifield. This year Dan and Virgie Heath added a Bugs Bunny and an angel to their display. The Heaths, who live at 22336 County Road 3, won first prize in the residential division of The Dispatch's annual areawide Christmas lighting contest.
Second place in the residential competition went to Ray and Josie Czech of 9705 County Road 108 in Brainerd and finishing third was Leroy Fasching, 6111 South Highway 25, Brainerd.
Among the commercial entries, Jan's Sew'n with Heart, 1302 Oak St., Brainerd, was second, and third place went to the Americinn Motel on Highway 371 North in Baxter near Target.
Winners received $100, $75 and $50 checks. The contest was co-sponsored again this year by The Dispatch and the Mills Companies.
Dan Heath did most of the work on the Merrifield yard that won the residential division. Growing up as a boy he fondly remembers a neighbor's Christmas lights. And about 10 years ago he started putting out his own lights.
Each year he adds something new. This year he added an angel and a Bugs Bunny to the display that includes 6,000 to 7,000 bulbs. He already knows what he's adding next year.
Ken Dock, co-owner with his wife Sheila of the Pier 25 Restaurant, said this is the first year the restaurant entered the contest. But the lights were also on display last year. He figures there are 7,000 to 8,000 bulbs involved.
"We put them outside and inside," Dock said. "People love them. People come in just to see the decorations."
Honorable mentions in the residential division were given to the entries of Shawn and Debbie Niemeyer, Brainerd; Dan and Helen Swanson, Baxter; Darren Cronquist, Brainerd; Paul Bible, Brainerd; David Hall and Lynn Karsten, Nisswa; and Paul Eisel, Motley.
Honorable mentions in the commercial division were: Lakeland Veterinary Hospital, Baxter; Jo and Bill's Gifts, Nisswa; and Nature's Touch Floral and Gift, Nisswa.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.