Over the last three years, Bill and Jennifer Kyprianidis of Elk Grove Village have seen their holiday decorations featured on ABC 7, on Fox News Chicago and on their local Village Trolley tour.
Now, the couple can add a first-place prize to the list. They won the 2010 Holiday Lights Contest sponsored by the Daily Herald.
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Out of dozens of entries submitted from Northwest suburban Cook, southern Lake, Kane, McHenry and DuPage counties, theirs was judged the best.
"Highlights for me were the carpet of yellow and red lighted lawn ornaments," said Daily Herald night photo editor Patrick Kunzer, who helped to judge the entries. "Also, their use of deep blue lights along the upper level of the house and framing the 'noel' on the roof seemed to really set it apart."
As an added feature, Kunzer liked the "ditto" sign on the next-door neighbor's front yard, with an arrow pointing to the Kyprianidis home. "It's sort of a joke," said their neighbor, Robin Joseph. "They're always giving us a hard time that we don't put up any lights. This year we decided to be lazy and put up the copycat sign."
The Kyprianidis family, including their children Billy and Nia, won a $100 gift certificate to Millrose Restaurant in South Barrington, where they can celebrate all their hard work and creativity over a dinner out.
"We just enjoy seeing all the kids who come to see it," Jennifer Kyprianidis said. "They dance on our driveway and their faces just light up when they see all the decorations. That makes it worth it."
By their own estimate, they string up more than 20,000 lights, both inside and out, and need six dedicated circuits just to power them.
But that's just the start. Their front and side yards spill over with 50 holiday figures, grouped into different winter scenes. There's the traditional Nativity scene, as well as Santa on his sleigh pulled by reindeer.
On the sides are a snowman scene, and a gingerbread house surrounded by gingerbread men.
There even are whimsical penguins slipping down a slide and Santa in the basketball hoop. New this year are four oversized snowflakes made of LED lights on the top roof of their house.
"We try to add something new each year, but we're starting to run out of room," Bill Kyprianidis said.
He concedes there has been a downside to so much decorating. They have been the target of vandals and consequently have had to install surveillance cameras and motion detectors.
The couple started getting into holiday decorating 15 years ago, when they lived in a smaller home in Elk Grove Village.
"We started out just putting lights on the gutter lines and maybe on some of the bushes," Bill Kyprianidis said. "My wife was the one who wanted to put up more. She got me started."
Jennifer Kyprianidis admits she is the driving force and that she likes all of the holiday splendor.
"Growing up, I was the 10th out of 10 children, and we didn't have a dad," she said. "We had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and couldn't afford any lights, but we were happy with that."
In her adulthood, she strives to make it a cheerier holiday season for everyone around her.
"When times are tough and you drive around and see all these lights, you can't help but smile," she said.
Great holiday displays across the suburbs
• 1622 N. Clarence Ave., Arlington Heights
• 1521 Dun Lo Drive, Arlington Heights
• 395 Bianco Dr., Elk Grove Village
• 1495 Morgan Drive, Elk Grove Village
• 1385 Bedford Road, Hoffman Estates
• 991 North Apple Tree Court, Palatine
• 529 Hingham Lane, Schaumburg
• 27 Samoset Lane, Schaumburg
• 707 Teal Court, Schaumburg
• 2049 Tiffany Drive, Schaumburg
• 1000 Manor Drive, Streamwood
• 635 Cherrywood Dr., Wheeling
• 347 Carey Court, Bloomingdale
• 510 N. Arlington Heights Road, Itasca
• 516 N. Arlington Heights Road, Itasca
• 493 N. Columbine Ave., Lombard
• 795 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Roselle
• 26W254 Wiesbrook Road, Wheaton
• 380 Crestwood Road, Wood Dale
• 943 Bluestem Lane, Batavia
• 1199 Meadow Drive, Batavia
• 106 Monroe St., Elgin
• 133 Tefft Ave., Elgin
• 582 Wexford Drive, Elgin
• 409 Morgan Lane, Fox River Grove
• 1818 Chandler Ave., St. Charles
• 225 Enfield Lane, Grayslake
• 4285 Crabtree Court, Gurnee
• 4968 Prairie Oak Road, Gurnee
• 21579 Mockingbird Court, Kildeer
• 429 Killarney Pass Circle, Mundelein
• 23 N. Durham Lane, Round Lake