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Text and photos by Richard Taylor
Saturday night was a good night if your name was O’Neal.
Three of the five winners of the annual Island Celebration, sponsored by the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association, were O’Neals.
The event honors light displays on businesses and homes, and Lighthouse Road is living up to its image with 17 homes having at least some outdoor decorative lighting and two of the winners.
Most Original was Fletcher and Heather O’Neal’s home at 344 Lighthouse Rd., with its stacked crab pot Christmas tree, surrounded by large, colorful inflated presents and a snowman holding a duck by the legs. Local duck hunters and oyster farmers, the O’Neals crafted their display around their trade.
“I’m surprised and most appreciative of this honor,” said Heather, a teacher’s assistant at Ocracoke School, adding that crab pot Christmas trees can often be seen along the N.C. coast.
Best Theme went to Fletcher’s parents, David and Kathy O’Neal, just down the road at 214 Lighthouse Rd., for their “Seaside Wishes and Candy Cane Kisses” nautical motif.
It features flying snow geese pulling red streamers harnessed to Santa’s sleigh — actually a small, decorated fishing skiff loaded with presents — on the porch. Wreaths, ribbons on side windows, candles, large red “JOY” letters, plus a lighted bear and boat anchor in the yard complete the compelling display.
Most Traditional honors went to Chip and Helena Stevens’ historic 1887 Wahab House at Irvin Garrish Highway and Nubbins Ridge for its display of lighted balconies, light-draped shrubbery, lighted deer and presents in the yard and seasonal décor inside.
Eduardo’s Taco Stand, next to the Variety Store, got the Best Business nod for its riot of colorful lights draped all over this food-truck style business.
Best of Show went to Bobby and Allison O’Neal on O’Neal Lane in Oyster Creek for their extensively decorated house, stairs and garage, featuring lighted Christmas mice on posts singing carols. Bobby works for Tideland EMC.
The Beech home, across from the post office, was runner-up.
After dark, Kathryn Waldrop, OCBA administrative assistant, chauffeured three judges around the village to view various displays and select winners.
After the judges made their decision, Waldrop placed award signs in the winners’ yards.
“We had lots of lights and good displays,” Waldrop said as she prepared to place the last sign. “This year more homes were lit up than last year, more people participated, but some displays were less bold.”
Teresa and Albert O’Neal, who have conducted the contest for the last several years, took a break this year but expect to return to this duty next year.
Judges were winter residents Vinnie and Maureen Ciancio of Buffalo and Juan Galvis of Durham, a regular fisherman who “comes and goes.”
All of the judges own homes here, but none are full-time residents.
Waldrop said she did not knock on doors to alert the winners.
“It’s kind of a surprise they could see when they woke up Sunday,” she said.