By Richard Taylor
Ocracoke Island’s Holiday Lights Celebration returned to the village this season with prizes awarded in five categories to new entrants as well as longtime decorators.
At least 14 homes along Lighthouse Road displayed varying degrees of splendor, including two celebration winners. Sundae Horn and Sara Teaster organized the event for the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association.
The Best of Show grand prize went to Trudy Austin and John Simpson for their big splash at Trudy’s home on the corner of Lighthouse and Loop roads.
Previous Best of Show winners Bobby and Allison O’Neal in Oyster Creek were runners-up.
“We only used about 80 percent of the decorations we had available,” Austin said later. “I was just trying to continue what my parents started in the ‘60s.”
Simpson also hosted his annual Christmas music show Saturday night on WOVV, 90.1 FM. The two also won best traditional fig cake at the Ocracoke Fig Festival Cake Bake-off in August.
“It was hard for the judges to choose a Best of Show,” Horn said. “They wanted to give lots of prizes.” “They really liked the Rudolph character and the sea creatures around the side.”
Across Lighthouse Road from Austin, Heather and Fletcher O’Neal reeled in the Best Theme prize for their fishing motif. The O’Neals operate Ocracoke Mariculture, an oyster farm.
Horn recruited village resident Rodney Lapp and visitor Jeremy Ross at Zillie’s to judge the festive event.
Horn said the judges never wavered from their delight with the O’Neal’s commercial fishing theme, and therefore did not award a runner-up in that category.
Other winners were as follows, for photos, see slideshow at bottom:
Most Traditional — Susan Barksdale house at the Corner of Sara Ellen and Silver Lake roads, for simple red candles inside the windows of this traditional two-story frame house. ”The judges loved the simplicity of this historic island home,” Horn posted on Facebook. “It’s visible from across the harbor.”
Most Traditional runners-up — Sue and Vince O’Neal house at the end of Cedar Road.
Most Original — Mickey and George Roberson’s house at Sunset Drive and Cemetery Road. “The judges admired the carriage full of gifts as unexpected and different,” Horn wrote.
Most Original runner-up — Helen and Richard Waldrop’s home in Jackson Circle. “We all loved the crab pot tree on the roof,” Horn posted.
Best of Show Business — Village Craftsmen on Howard Street. Horn posted that their winning elements were the real Christmas tree on the porch and a mantel hung with stockings. “The judges appreciated that Village Craftsmen made the effort to decorate, even though they are closed for the season.”
Best of Show Business runner-up — Zillie’s on Back Road.
A special honorable mention went to “Moostletoe the Moose,” who migrated from the Lighthouse to Ocracoke School, before finally mooving to the residence of Martha and Ronnie Van O’Neal on Back Road.
Howard Street resident Thurston Sumner created “Moostletoe” last year and it became Yuletide favorite in the village.
“Our judges were very thoughtful,” Horn said. “They made notes and took a lot of time with it.”
Some people, who have lights every year, didn’t have lights. So the competition was different this year.
“There were still a lot of lights this year,” Horn said. “I thought everybody did a great job. I appreciate it when anyone puts up even just a few lights. It makes the island more festive.”