By Jennifer Coneeny
Judging will take place for the annual “Light Up Durham” holiday decoration and lighting contest Thursday, Dec. 3. The criteria includes ingenuity, originality and creativity displayed through holiday decor in recognized Greek Life properties and local businesses around Durham.
For the past 20 years, the Durham Business Association (DBA) has hosted the event. The DBA is a non-profit organization compromised of businesses and professionals working together to provide a voice for the interest of local businesses.
The judges of the event include Katie Muth, executive director of the DBA, JoHanna Knight, president of the DBA, various Greek chapter members that vary from year to year, and various community members that want to participate.
The contest allows for businesses to compete against other businesses, and for UNH fraternities to compete against sororities to win bragging rights as the property with the most holiday spirit around town.
Tatum Evans, owner of Adara Salon on Main Street, has worked in Durham for 18 years. The business she previously worked for had participated in the contest each year since its inception. Now she plans to participate in the annual contest at her own salon, which opened in May of 2014.
“This is my second year participating in the decoration contest,” Evans explained. “I never see the judges since they come around at night after the salon is closed, but I think it is a great event.”
Long strings of white Christmas lights hang in her large storefront window. They blink at a rapid rate that creates a snowflake effect, proving to draw attention to her salon.
The Durham Book Exchange, a not-so-new business in town, has participated in the lighting event every year since it began and won last year’s contest.
The store opened in 1981 and has always prized itself on being a successful local business that directly supports students and residents in the Durham community. The employees enjoy decorating the store for the holiday season and taking part in the DBA event.
“Each year Katie Muth, the executive director of the Durham Business Association, sends out an email to remind us about the contest,” said Maggie Lund, an employee of the Durham Book Exchange.
“I design the window display and John (Teeri, another employee) does all the handy-work to make sure it looks good,” Lund said with a laugh.
This year, the Durham Book Exchange chose to use many sets of white lights to frame the sign above the entrance, which makes the store glow on Main Street.
Fraternities and sororities also love getting involved in the annual event. Although they are currently a work in progress, Strafford Avenue and Madbury Road, the two streets where Greek houses are located, are lighting up and preparing for judgment day.
Katie Teren, a senior member of the sorority Alpha Xi Delta, has witnessed the event take place outside of her sorority house for the past four years. The sorority has participated since the start of the tradition.
“Ever since I was a freshmen in the sorority, we have participated in the annual decorating contest,” said Teren. “We have placed in the top three sororities many times, including first place in 2011!”
Teren says the sorority starts getting into the holiday spirit after Thanksgiving break.
“We are all there to lend a helping hand and make it the best house in the contest,” said Teren.
The DBA intends for the “Light Up Durham” event to, quite literally, brighten up the Durham community in preparation for the holiday season.