NEW PALESTINE — Arty Clark and his neighbor have a little running joke about the reason people visit their street at Christmastime.
“My neighbor always tells me his lights attract everybody and then they just happen to see mine,” Clark said with a laugh.
Each year, Clark spends several hundred dollars decorating his family’s home in the 4700 block of South Mud Creek Court in New Palestine. Last year, he was named the Community Winner in the Bob Kingry annual Light the Night Contest.
“I’ve been putting up lights for a while, and when we moved to a bigger house, it’s gotten to be kind of a cool thing,” Clark said. “I know the kids love it, and that’s the main reason I do it.”
This will be the third year local groups and community members in New Palestine will pay respects to a resident who used to light up his home like no other at the holidays. The architect of the dazzling displays, Bob Kingry, died in 2017 at age 68
The third Annual Bob Kingry Light the Night contest, presented by New Palestine Main Street and the New Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce, officially kicked off last weekend.
Clark, who is a father of two boys, said it’s a blast decorating the family home.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said.
Clark is one of dozens of community members have entered the contest to decorate their home or business in Bob Kingry fashion, which means decorating things with as many lights and festive Christmas ideas as possible. The winners of the contest will be announced Friday evening, Dec. 17, on Main Street at the Mary M. Nichols building.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand with a choir around 6 p.m. There will even be a Festival of Lights Parade, vendors, food trucks and more. Officials will then announce the winners of the contest.
In conjunction with the contest, the groups were hoping to host a number of of Christmas events this past weekend, but worries about the weather pushed the the town’s Winterfest back until this Friday.
Santa’s Trail Christmas Walk will kick off the event. Participants can pick up a map at Edward Jones, 48 W. Main Street, beginning at 3 p.m. People can then visit the participating businesses and vendors to receive a stamp on their map. Completed maps may be turned in at the Mary M. Nichols building, East Main Street no later than 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Part of the idea behind Light the Night is to make New Palestine a destination for Christmas light lovers by getting as many home and business owners as possible to decorate for the holidays like Kingry did at his home in Schildmeier Village. His light display attracted people from all over for many years.
“We don’t think anyone will ever do it like Mr. Kingry did, but we want to keep his spirit going,” said Julie Lucas, who leads New Palestine Main Street. “He always had such a great display, and everyone always went by to see it.”
Erin Garvey of New Palestine Main Street said Christmastime in New Pal was always special when Kingry set up his Christmas display.
“A few members of the chamber and I had an idea to add a Christmas lights map of local residences and even businesses, as part of the annual Christmas Walk,” she said. “We thought it would be fun to make it a contest.”
After speaking to the Kingry family, they were honored to add Bob Kingry’s name to the title.
“We could not think of a better way to help bring the community together and to build the community spirit, than to recognize the member of our very own community who pulled out all the stops when it came to Christmas lights displays,” she said.
Last year, organizers had more then 20 contestants. More than 30 are competing this year in several categories: Best Business Display, Community Spirit and Most Festive.
Lucas said Light the Night and the holiday events are all about everyone working together and giving people a place to gather and have a good time during the Christmas season.
Lucas joked when asked if the goal of the Light the Night contest was to get New Palestine noticed from the International Space Station.
“Exactly,” she said with a laugh.
Light the Night entries in New Palestine:
35 E. Main Street
131 E. Main Street
132 E. Main Street
28 E. Main Street
18 E. Main Street
50 W. Main Street
56 W. Main Street
4331 S. County Road 500W
4924 S. Loganberry Court
3727 S. Stony Ridge Court
4763 W. Tradwell Drive
1300 Harmony Trail
1274 Harmony Trail
1255 Harmony Trail
1234 Harmony Trail
1200 Harmony Trail
3272 Harmony Trail
3256 Harmony Trail
3238 Harmony Trail
3205 Harmony Trail
2920 W. Sycamore Drive
3164 W. Sharon Drive
4819 West County Road 100S
1423 S. Fox Tail Pass
6942 W. Logan Drive
4014 S. Heritage Court
3780 S. Creekside Drive
4802 South Mud Creek Court
4769 South Mud Creek Court
5521 W. Baywood Drive
5550 W. U.S. 52