A holiday hat trick: Elk Grove man is 3-time winner of Daily Herald lights contest
Richy Sandberg added a socially conscious element to his already spectacular display to win the Daily Herald holiday lights contest for the third year in a row.
"This year, I lit up the middle arch green on the light tunnels to show support for health care professionals," Sandberg said of his exhibit at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village.
Seven-foot lengths of green ribbon were sent to every household in the village during the summer to be tied around trees in support of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Sandberg incorporated that idea into his presentation by wrapping the green mini-lights on the most prominent piece in his display.
The PVC-pipe arches create an inviting tunnel on the sidewalk where many viewers gather to take in the busy front yard that has at least 200 lighted, plastic blow mold characters covering every inch.
"One of the things that I always saw, that I was always fascinated with as a child were the blow molds," he said of his obsession with the traditional, cartoonish figures smiling from his lawn. "There weren't any light shows or special computer-generated shows when I was a kid. They are very timeless, and you can't think of Christmas without thinking of blow molds."
The usual centerpiece of his winning display is a 34-piece choir of the molded plastic figures singing "Somewhere In My Memory" from the "Home Alone" movie soundtrack. Visitors can tune their car radios to 106.1-FM to hear the music synced to the dancing lights.
At least 20,000 lights outline the house and cover the roof, while dozens of other plastic figures of candy canes, toy soldiers, Disney characters, gingerbread men and other traditional Christmas fare entice passing drivers slow or stop for a few moments to see it all.
Sandberg admits his friends, family and co-workers may have influenced the vote. One co-worker told him she was voting for him every hour on the Daily Herald contest website. But he stands by his audacious display.
"I always said when I was a kid that I wanted to do this when I grew up and had my own house," he explained.
As the grand prize winner, Sandberg will receive a $750 Treetime Christmas Creations gift card and a $20 gift certificate from Ala Carte Entertainment, which owns a number of restaurants throughout the area including Moretti's.
The Daily Herald also chooses four Editor's Choice winners, one each from DuPage County, the Fox Valley, Lake County and the Northwest suburbs. Editor's Choice winners receive a $25 Treetime Christmas Creations gift card and a $10 Ala Carte Entertainment gift certificate.
Check out their displays:
Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: Northwest suburbs: Ray Aviles, 3708 Rywick Drive in Rolling Meadows
Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: DuPage County: Rudy Vanderbiest, 1214 Easton Drive in Carol Stream
Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: Fox Valley: Michael Ash, 7438 Grandview Court in Carpentersville
Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: Lake County: Brett Safron, 11 Copperwood Drive in Buffalo Grove