Holiday Lights Brighten Dark Skies

Lighting contest winners named, tour map on page 9A


Stars were not the only things twinkling in Payson's night sky last week as judges chose winners of the Holiday Lighting Contest.

Last Thursday and Friday nights, judges from the Town of Payson, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Public Service and the Town of Star Valley appraised 28 entries to the contest.


Simple elegance in traditional season colors of white, green and red were the hallmarks of Nicole DePugh's theme on East Hunter Drive in Payson. DePugh, a 15-year-old sophomore at Payson High School, won a $500 first prize in the Holiday Lighting Contest.

There were six winners, three in Payson and three in Star Valley.

The two first-place winners received $500, and the second- and third-place winners got $300 and $200 respectively.

First place in Star Valley went to Tony and Raylene Phillips at 11 Hillside Drive, and in Payson it went to 15-year-old Nicole DePugh.

The Phillips' house wasn't hard to find, it was the one underneath the 15-foot diameter peace symbol.

"Mama we love you," a tribute to Tony's mother who died in 1998, was emblazoned across the roof underneath it.

A fairyland forest, populated by sugarplums and red and white striped candy canes, was the theme, Raylene said.

"We did the same thing for the Main Street (Electric) Light Parade, but the weather was so bad that night, we decided to keep what we had built and incorporate it into our house lighting decorations," she said.

Raylene said her husband put a lot of long hours into the decorations.


Multicolor bushes and trees along with the message "Mama We Love You" on the roof, illuminated the Christmas light display at Tony Phillips' house at 11 Hillside Drive in Star Valley. Phillips was Star Valley's $500 first-place winner of the Holiday Lighting Contest.

"Tony started the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I didn't see him until just before bedtime every night until the judging," Raylene said.

She said they used all the electric power available to them to light the holiday display.

"Some of the prize money is going to pay for the electric bill," she joked.

The Phillips' 6-year-old son, River, helped his dad put up some of the lights.


Resembling a cottage from a fairy tale, second-place winner Adam Haught's house at 902 W. Antler Circle in Payson lights the skyline.

"We upgrade some of the lights each year," Tony said. "But it's pretty much the same theme."

This is the Phillips' ninth year putting up holiday lights.

First place in Payson went to Nicole DePugh, at 608 E. Hunter Dr.

Nicole is a 15-year-old sophomore at Payson High School, and the daughter of Robert and Emily DePugh.

Sparkling in colors of red, white and green, Nicole said simplicity was the theme for her decorations.


Second place in Star Valley went to the home of Ron Frost at 46 Rainbow Drive. Frost's display included inflatable polar bears balanced precariously on the peak of the roof, and a yard and driveway lined with luminarias.

The front windows were trimmed in red lights, with each side of the front door illuminated and white icicles hanging from the eves of the roof.

Wire-frame deer, outlined in white lights, grazed the imaginary forest in search of sweet, tasty morsels.

Nicole said she wanted to do all the work herself.

"I started working on it before Thanksgiving, and finished just before the judging," she said.

She was able to put together her holiday light display for under $100, plus lights from last year's efforts, Nicole said.


Scott and Joyce Popke chose a simple theme to garner third place in the Holiday Lighting Contest. Their house at 215 Cedar Mill Court lights the evening sky in Star Valley.

Since she did all the work on the house herself, she gets to keep all the prize money.

"I will get my driver's license next year, so I think I'm going to save the money to buy a car," Nicole said.

Nicole's parents said they are happy about her winning the contest.

"We're very proud of her efforts, she's tried so hard for a couple of years now, and we're just glad she finally won," Emily DePugh said.

Adam Haught, 902 W. Antler Circle, won second place in Payson, and Ron and Leona Bowman at 900 W. Country Lane took third place.


Third-place winner in Payson, Ron and Leona Bowman's house, at 900 W. Country Lane, featured revolving trees and lights keeping time with holiday tunes, and rivers of blue flowing lights.

In Star Valley, Ron Frost, 46 Rainbow Drive, took second prize, and Scott and Joyce Popke, 215 Cedar Mill Court, won third place.

Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Manager John Stanton, Interim Town Manager Debra Galbraith, Customer Service Representative with Arizona Public Service Darlene Zacharias and a representative from the Payson Roundup, were Thursday night's judges for entries in Payson.

Vito Tedeschi, town manager for Star Valley, along with Zacharias and a representative from the Roundup did the judging in Star Valley Friday night.

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