Clark Griswald would be proud of both winners of the Third Annual Holiday Lights Contest. The "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" string-light enthusiast has long been an inspiration to first-place winner Josh Pankratz.

His yard gleams with 3,100 white lights and untold watts of other Christmas colors, candy canes, inflatable Santas and even pre-recorded seasonal songs that play to please passersby.

“I love the lights and I need to occupy my time,” he said.

Pankratz got the holiday off from work as a member of the maintenance crew at Dodge City Community College.

The Daily Globe awarded Pankratz an honorable mention for his efforts in 2018.

Since then, he has been an avid viewer of “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC, which he cited as another source of inspiration. His mother, Karen, finances her son’s decorating dreams.

“I’m not done yet,” Pankratz said.

He said he mines TrueValue for after-Christmas sales each year.

Next year, Pankratz plans to incorporate an FM transmitter into the mix, to sync holiday songs with his yard decor.

Former first-place champion Ava Arntt came in second this year.

Arntt said she begins to decorate her yard in September.

She admits she had to make a decision to commit to Christmas over Halloween in the decorating department.

“I love Christmas and like to make people happy,” Arntt said. “I like it when people say they can see (my yard) from far away.”

Of all the homemade holiday paraphernalia strategically arranged in her front yard, Arntt said her favorite is a 10-foot-tall hot-air balloon about to take flight with the most important passenger of all: Santa Claus.

For 30 years now, Arntt has decorated her front yard. She said she tries to add something new to the mix each time.

Her go-to source for decor? Home Depot.


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