Enthusiasm For Decorating Brightens Highway In Pine

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Motorists get an eyeful of holiday lights whether they look east or west in Pine as two real estate offices on either side of Highway 87 stage an undeclared battle of the bulbs.

The enthusiasm for holiday decorating at Sunny Mountain Realty and Bishop Realty has brightened the Pine-Strawberry Commercial Lighting Contest in the past few years.

"There's no rivalry," said Sunny Mountain Realty owner Wilma Young. "We all do what we do, and everything that everyone does just helps the community."

Sunny Mountain Realty, on the west side of the highway, won the grand prize this year over its toughest competitor, Bishop Realty, which took honors for first place.

Ginger Jeffers, one of the five contest judges, said Sunny Mountain got the nod over Bishop because most of its decorations were handmade.

The six agents at Sunny Mountain, along with their friends, family and neighbors, created barbed wire trees, a sheet-metal river and more than four dozen sheet-metal stars. A campfire and an outhouse add to the Southwestern theme.

"It's extraordinary, how clever they were," Jeffers said.

Young gives Sunny Mountain's broker, Dianne Mitchell, the credit for inspiring the group effort.

"We all sit and talk about what we're going to do, but Dianne is the person who knows how to implement it," Young said. "She's a very creative soul."

Jeffers, Donna Nathe, Vliet Hulse and Ken and Ruth D'Arcangelo, the five contest judges, rode around the area and judged the lights they saw last week.

"Some (businesses) didn't get around to it -- I guess it's a bit early," Jeffers said. "We judged the ones that we saw lit up and that's all we could do. I thought we did really well, actually."

Jeffers described Bishop's display as "a seasonal delight."

"There's a lot over there -- it's pretty and really nice," she said.

The Portals IV Entrance, described as "elegant and attractive," got second place and Prudential Realty and Windmill Corner Inn tied for third.

Special mention went to MVP Realty and Country Gifts and Pineberry Antiques. They were among some 19 entries.

"We appreciate every string of lights that goes up," Young said. "It just adds to the betterment of the community."

Young said Sunny Mountain Realty decorates the business throughout the year, for all the major holidays. "Everyone enjoys it. I can't tell you how many times people drive by and honk their horns or give us a 'thumbs up.'"

Christmas decorating at Sunny Mountain was a two-week process and involved friends, family and clients.

Ray Pugel, owner/broker of Bishop Realty, said he got help from a friend, John Spreen, "my consultant and master electrician."

Pugel and Spreen worked on the display at Bishop Realty for about five days.

Pugel said the company, which he purchased three years ago, has a tradition of decorating for the holidays.

"They've decorated every year for 27 years," he said. "I just added to it and change the displays a bit."

Pugel said Bishop has been the centerpiece of the community and has gotten many of the other businesses involved in the holiday decorating.

He estimates that there are some 20,000 lights on the display at Bishop, but he hasn't counted. He just keeps adding to it. There's a full-sized sled and eight tiny reindeer (nine, with Rudolph) and lights on all the trees and the building.

"It's something we do for the spirit and the enjoyment of the community -- that's the real reason behind it," he said.

Young echoed that.
"It's a labor of love," she said. "I can't say how many man-hours it took us. Doing things by hand takes time. We don't just put up lights."

And the tradition promises to continue. "Wait'll next year," Pugel said. "It's going to be even better -- I've already started planning."

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