Public art organization hosts holiday lights contest


Christmas brings to mind meticulously crafted light displays, often stunning in their design or sheer excess.

The Triangle Arts and Culture League (TACL), a local nonprofit organization, thinks these displays are a form of public art and has introduced a new holiday contest to celebrate the artists behind the displays. Announced this week by TACL president Greg Lilly, the "Truly Terrific Holiday Lights Contest" will award prize money and trophies to four winners.

Terry Buntrock, the league's executive director, recently visited Richmond for the Tacky Lights Tour. The trip sparked conversation during a TACL board meeting about holiday lights as a fun form of public art, she said. With money leftover in the organization's 2016 budget, the idea for the competition was born.

"We decided it would be just a lot of fun to reward people for their efforts," Buntrock said.

Not to mention, the idea is wrapped into TACL's mission of promoting public art — in all forms.

"If you think about the planning that goes in, we think these homeowners really are artists," Buntrock said. "They're definitely folk artists."

The contest includes two categories: Totally Terrific Public Art Lawn Display and Truly Traditional Public Art Lawn Display. The former celebrates "over-the-top holiday lawn decor," according to the contest's news release. This means colorful lights, inflatables, signs, cut-out or plastic figures and more. The traditional category, as the name suggests, looks for decorations that include white lights, greenery, ribbon, cones, wood and other natural items.

Judged by TACL's League of 100, a by-invitation membership of individuals who support the organization's mission, the contest will continue through Dec. 26. Any type of residence within the city of Williamsburg, James City and York counties is eligible. Two first place winners will receive $250 each, and two second place winners will receive $100 each.

Winners will be announced early January, but judges will post photos of favorite light displays on the Triangle Arts and Culture League Facebook page throughout the season.

If interested in entering the competition, email your address to You can also post photos to your own Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #tacl-lights to alert TACL to the display.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

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