District-wide winners in Christmas lights contest

The Rainy River Future Development Corp. wrapped up its Christmas lighting contest last week, handing out $600 in prize money to area residents.
The district-wide contest saw two dozen homes (18 from the east end and six from the west) nominated by people, and then judged on by RRFDC members last Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
First place for the east end went to Charlie Turgeon of 613 First St. E. in Fort Frances while Mike Meunier of 510 Government Rd. in Rainy River took top honours for the west end.
Each won $175.
Runners-up were Alberton residents Stan and Vicki Calder on Highway 611 N (east end) and Arbor Vitae residents Ben and Millie Lindal on Sutherland Road north of Pinewood (west end).
Each of them received $125.
“We did this to generate community spirit and it worked!” enthused RRFDC project co-ordinator Jeanette Cawston on Friday.
“Just the fact that people had to nominate others was a way for them to give to their community and their neighbours. It was great!” she added.
While Turgeon and Meunier were pleased with their “best and brightest” winnings, both said the contest had nothing to do with how much outside decorating they did.
“We do it for the children in the area,” said Turgeon, who has been lighting up his property at Christmas for about five years.
“The whole idea behind it was for the mother with her kids who would come and show them [the lights] so they could see what Christmas was all about,” he added.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years or more, ever since our kids were small,” echoed Meunier, who admitted he had no idea there was a contest on outdoor Christmas lighting.
“I’ve made just about everything out there. I just keep gathering a little more each year,” he added.
Both district residents said their hydro bills certainly reflect the added wattage over the Christmas season but noted the added cost really wasn’t a concern given the rewards of doing it.
“Well, [our bill] averages about $75-100 extra but people enjoy it and we enjoy watching them drive up and then slow right down,” smiled Meunier.
“It’s not that bad,” Turgeon said of his lighting bill. “And the way we look at it, it’s only for a month.
“It’s enjoyment for the children and to me, the cost is insignificant,” he reasoned.
Due to the success the contest, Cawston said the RRFDC is planning to make it an annual one.
She also noted some area residents had suggestions on how to vary the contest a little bit, and said those ideas would be considered in the planning for next year.
In related news, a bus tour, courtesy of CFOB and Asselin Transportation, took place last night, giving residents of the seniors’ complexes here a chance to view the Christmas lights in Fort Frances and Couchiching.