PANAMA CITY — One of a dozen or more Santa Clauses welcomes guests to the home of Freddy Brown and Sunny Cox with a “ho ho ho” and song.
Brown’s home has been selected as the winner of the Shining Lights contest for the best Christmas decorations. The roof, lawn and the flagpole are adorned with lights and figurines, including those dozen Santas, at least 10 snowmen and countless candy canes.
Brown learned he’d won the contest, and then he won a DVD player in a drawing at work, and scratch off ticket given to him as a gift turned out to be a winner. Cox rubbed up against him, as if to capture some of his good fortune.
“So rub all over me,” he said. “It might change tomorrow.”
To call the victory ‘lucky’ is to downplay the effort Brown and Cox—who are, by the way, a couple that finishes each other’s sentences—put into their display. They don’t keep track of the costs of their decorations, which must be considerable. Brown tried to guesstimate.
“It’s probably, uh—“
“—about $5,000,” Cox concluded.
That’s not considering the cost to power the display. Or the cost of hiring an electrician to rewire the house so the display wouldn’t trip the circuit breakers.
“It’s not as bad as some people would think…I honestly never look at the cost of it,” Brown said.
Brown and Cox began work on their display in early November. To hear him talk about it, Brown never set out to win the contest; in fact, he actually voted for another contestant because he appreciated the amount of effort that contestant put into their display.
He does it instead for the 2-year-old kid who threw a fit because he didn’t want to leave when his parents tried to get him back in the car, and for the 90-year-old woman who couldn’t get out of her car, and for the neighborhood kid who bought Brown an ice cream sandwich when the ice cream man passed though.
“Actually, it’s a lot of fun for me because of the kids that come around,” Brown said. “It really means a lot to me; it brings me a lot of Christmas Spirit.”
WHAT THEY WON
For Freddy Brown and Sunny Cox's first place win in this year’s Shining Lights decorating contest, prizes included: $100 Visa gift card from Centennial Bank, $100 gift card to Cahall’s Deli, Mike’s Café & Oyster Bar gift card for two meals with drinks, Bay Cars oil change gift card, $50 gift certificate to Breakers, two nights at Legacy by the Sea Resort, two passes to Wonderworks, and one swim with the dolphin program at Gulf World.
Second place winners were: Steve and Kelly Pehr of 1504 Connecticut Ave. in Lynn Haven. Their prizes included: $100 American Express gift card from the TDC, Mike’s Café & Oyster Bar gift card for two meals with drinks, Bay Cars oil change gift card, $50 gift certificate to Breakers, two passes to Wonderworks, one family pass (two adults, two children) to Gulf World.
Third place winner was Joe Melvin of 6818 Omoko St. in Callaway. His prizes included: $75 American Express gift card from the TDC, Mike’s Café & Oyster Bar gift card for two meals with drinks, Bay Cars oil change gift card, $25 gift card to Newk’s, two passes to Wonderworks, two adult passes to Gulf World.
Honorable Mention went to Larry Kissinger of 5010 13th Court in Panama City. His prizes included: $50 American Express gift card from the TDC, Mike’s Café & Oyster Bar gift card for two meals with drinks, Bay Cars oil change gift card, two passes to Wonderworks.
Awards were presented Tuesday at the regular meeting of the Bay County Commission.