As a backdrop for Christmas lights, there's nothing like a big, open front porch.
And Andrew and Brandi Love use theirs to advantage by stringing dripping icicle lights on the gutters, spirals of red and white rope lights around the pillars and green garland with white lights to the railing.
For that, and several other decorations, the Loves won first place last year in the city of Rock Island's 33rd annual Holiday Lighting Contest, organized by its Beautification Commission. The Loves' award was in the residential category; the contest also has a commercial division.
This year's 34th contest will be decided by members of the beautification commission after a bus tour Monday.
The Loves' display is not an over-the-top, Clark Griswold/"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" assault on the senses, with thousands of lights set to music and covering nearly every inch of available space, so Love was surprised when he received the letter last year notifying him that he had won.
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In addition to the lights on the house, there are icicles on the garage, white rope lights around a tree in the front yard and various stand-up decorations around the porch foundation — two inflatables, small green lighted trees and four creatures woven of vine-like material.
The green garland on the porch railing makes the house look attractive during daylight when the lights aren't on, Brandi Love pointed out. Wreaths with bows on the first and second floor windows do the same.
Andrew Love began outdoor decorating when the couple's four children, now ages 19, 16, 13 and 10, were little.
"I do it for the kids," he said. "My dad decorated when I was little. I did it so my kids would have memories like that."
The idea behind the city contest is to recognize people and businesses that make an extra effort to create displays that provide enjoyment to others, Bob Towler, a member of the beautification committee said.