Medina announces winners of ‘Village of Lights’ contest

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Jeff and Jamie Wagner of 814 Gwinn St. were Grand Champion winners for their holiday decorations.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 21 December 2020 at 12:10 pm

MEDINA – Medina’s Parade of Lights Committee has announced the winners of its first Village of Lights contest.

The idea for a home lighting contest was born in the summer when the Parade of Lights Committee was brainstorming about whether they could have the Parade of Lights, when someone asked, “What about a village of lights,” said Pat Payne, a member of the Parade of Lights Committee.

They decided to advertise the contest and put up posters around town.

The home of Gianna and Jody Sargent at 1009 West Center St. was named winner of the Christmas Spirit – Traditional category in the Village of Lights contest.

All entries had to be within the village limits, and organizers hoped for a dozen entrants.

“We were hoping for two entrants in each of the six resident categories,” Payne said. “Imagine how thrilled we were to have 22 homes enter.”

They also created categories for businesses.

Each entrant was given a number and signs with their number were placed in their yards, so judges would not know who they were judging. Last weekend, six anonymous judges drove throughout the town viewing the displays, and then met in a Zoom conference to share their decisions.

“They came to some really nice decisions,” Payne said. “We are very, very pleased with the results.”

Erika Payne of 152 State Street won “Most Whimsical” for the Christmas decorations at her home in the Village of Lights contest.

Erika Payne, whose home at 152 State St. was named “Most Whimsical,” said her family has been decorating their home for Christmas on and off for years. Her grandparents, the Palones, started it when they were younger and many of the decorations belonged to them, including the big bow on the roof, the Noel posts on the porch and a Santa and snowman. Her grandfather hasn’t put up Christmas decorations since her grandma died 10 years ago, but this year he chipped in and helped with the cost.

Payne said her kids help every year and now her grandkids are joining in, although they are only 3 and 4 years old.

“This is something to do as a family, and it’s exciting to see the cars going by and taking pictures,” Payne said. “My daughter tested positive for Covid-19 10 days ago, and with everything else going on the world now we needed something cheerful to do.”

She said they were hoping they’d win something in the contest, and were thrilled to learn they were considered “Most Whimsical.”

Joe and Julie Granchelli’s home at 121 Zacher Drive won the “Christmas Spirit” category for their Christmas decorations.

Jeff and Jamie Wagner of 814 Gwinn St. were named Grand Champion. They had already put their decorations up when the contest was announced, and they decided they might as well enter it, Jeff said.

They first got the idea to decorate for Christmas a long time ago after they had visited the historic town of Mumford, with all its old houses. At first they just decorated the fence, and then one year kids stole all the decorations during the night.

“We discontinued it, but last year I retired so we decided to try it again,” Jeff said.

The Wagner’s home was built by Medina’s sleigh maker Ed Davis, and the Wagners have one of his sleighs.

“Restoring it is my project next year,” Jeff said.

Jeff said it takes them about 40 hours over four or five days to put up all their decorations.

“I enjoy every minute of it,” he said. “We’re excited to have won. It’s very cool, and it’s nice to be acknowledged. I’m also very happy Gwinn Street did so well, with so many homes decorated. I would love to see the contest keep growing.”

Jeff is so happy with the event he is considering volunteering to help with it next year.

These three neighbors on Gwinn Street won the category “Most Visible from Space” for their Christmas decorations in the Village of Lights contest in Medina, sponsored by the Parade of Lights Committee. The homes, from left, belong to N. Dieter, J. Dieter and J. Sherman.

John Sherman, Nick Dieter and his dad John Dieter, who are all neighbors on Gwinn Street, didn’t intend to enter the lighting contest together, but when it was suggested they consider entering as one, they agreed. Their decision earned them the “Probably Visible from Space” prize.

Sherman and his wife Marguerite have been decorating for quite a few years.

“There really isn’t a competition among us,” Sherman said. “We’re all good friends just trying to keep it festive for everybody. We’ll probably take our prize money and get a big pizza together.”

Sherman said he usually tries to pick up a few more decorations each year after Christmas, but this year the shelves are already pretty much cleaned out.

He starts putting up his decorations before Thanksgiving while the weather is still nice, and it takes him a couple of weekends. He said he was glad he had them up during the Parade of Lights, because so many cars were lined up on his street and this gave them something to see. He will begin taking them down after the first of the year.

Cindy Watson’s home at 935 Gwinn St. was chosen winner of the “Best Use of Lights” category in the Village of Lights contest.

Signs identifying all the entrants have been placed in the yards and will remain there until the New Year. A map of all the entries can be found at

Residential winners were Gianna and Jody Sargent, 1009 West Center St., Christmas Spirit – Traditional; Joe and Julie Granchelli, 121 Zacher Dr., Christmas Spirit – Innovative; Erika Payne, 152 State St., Most Whimsical; Cindy Watson, 935 Gwinn St., Best Use of Lights; N. Dieter, J. Dieter and J. Sherman, 913, 915 and 917 Gwinn St., Probably Visible from Space; and Jeff and Jamie Wagner, Grand Champion.

Business winners were Della’s Chocolates, 512 Main St., and ATB Staffing, 534 Main St., Christmas Spirit; and Herbalty Cottage, 415 Main St., Community Spirit.