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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2006
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Philip and Suzette Tew, 1005 Sherman St. S.E., emphasized the reason for the season in their decorations. Their depiction of the Nativity earned them the Overall Excellence Award in Albany Historic District’s annual Christmas decorating competition.
Philip and Suzette Tew, 1005 Sherman St. S.E., emphasized the reason for the season in their decorations. Their depiction of the Nativity earned them the Overall Excellence Award in Albany Historic District’s annual Christmas decorating competition.

Dressed for Christmas
Lights and decorations provide enchanting spectacle

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com· 340-2446

Wherever you turn, the lights and sights of Christmas abound. From traditional to contemporary, it’s a spectacle that enchants all ages.

Ellis and Carol Chenault’s Williamsburg-style decorations took first place in the Traditional category.
Ellis and Carol Chenault’s Williamsburg-style decorations took first place in the Traditional category.
The Daily will publish its annual lights guide beginning Dec. 18. The “Have You Seen the Lights?”box below provides information for how you can submit your favorite display.

On this page are photos of some of the winning displays in the annual decorating contests in Albany andOld Decatur, two of the best-dressed neighborhoods in the city.

Nativity is overall winner in Albany

In a holiday world filled with Santa, snowmen, reindeer and candy canes, you have to look carefully to find a manger scene.

Churches may have them, but public buildings and schools usually don’t, and they aren’t common in front of homes.

But the Nativity scene at the Sherman Street Southeast home of Suzette, Philip and Miriam Tew took this year’s top award in overall excellence in the Albany Historic District’s Christmas decorating contest.

Judges liked the design that begins on the front porch and spills onto the sidewalk. Bales of hay and an unusual combination of roses, branches and greenery symbolizing the crown of thorns and palms are worked in alongside Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and angels.

Suzette said this is their fifth year in this house, and they’ve won three times in the traditional decorating category — one third place and two honorable mentions.

“We bought this Nativity to go with this house after my sister, Chandra Naylor, found it in another town,” Tew said.

“It’s the true meaning of Christmas, and we just wanted to share the depiction of the birth of Christ with the community.

“People come from all over, and there’s a steady stream of cars. We look at it as a gift to the community, but it is a major tourist event.”

Their 13-year-old daughter is their motivation. “It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. We do it to create wonderful family memories for Miriam, who gets so excited about Christmas,” she said.

Miriam helped her mother and aunt with the decorating after her dad brought a truckload of magnolias, cedar, pine and holly back from her grandmother’s property in southern Mississippi.

After the women arranged all that greenery, they filled in with dried oakleaf hydrangea from Naylor’s yard in Decatur. “We spent several nights spraying white some branches that I picked up in the streets and alleys of the historic district,” said Tew.

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The Chenaults live at 417 Line St. N.E. Wes and Katie Black, 419 Oak St. N.E., placed first in Fantasy. Their decorations included fresh pine and cedar, grapevine wreaths and gold window treatments.
White roses are scattered throughout the design and will be replaced periodically throughout the season.

Planters hold an unusual kind of greenery that “is pretty, looks like palms and fits in with the Nativity theme,” Tew said. She also found a hedge vine of thorns and used dried thorn vine in urns on her porch to replicate the crown of thorns, another Christian symbol. They are members of Decatur’s Central Baptist Church.

Their front door is blocked by the display, so the family uses their side door. “Our postman has his job cut out for him, but he’s been gracious about continuing to deliver our mail despite our thorns and branches and wires,” said Tew.

Because the theft of holiday decorations from historic neighborhoods seems to be increasing, with nutcrackers, Santa and other items stolen this year and last, the Tews added security for their lighted display.

“We almost didn’t put the Nativity out again this year because of crime,” said Tew.

“And every day we pray nobody steals baby Jesus.

Winners’ list

Names and addresses of holiday decorating contest winners in Old Decatur and Albany historic districts were listed in Thursday’s Decatur Daily. To find it on the Web, visit www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/061207/decor.shtml

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