“The magic is in the Christmas lights; as the twinkles spread, so does the holiday cheer.”

Lighting Contests are in full swing across the Iron Range. Whether you are a local resident or traveling to the area, be sure to get out and see the Christmas lights. Your thoughts may drift off to Clark W. Griswold with his 25,000 twinkling lights.  Joy spoke to a professional seasonal light designer for tips on how you can do your lights, who says you do not need to do a Clark Griswold display to play. His name is Dylon Horne. He is from Gilbert and is the owner of Horne Seasonal Lighting.  Joy caught up with Horne in Gilbert as he installed luminous lights on the Gazebo on Broadway.  

Dylon Horne, of Horne Seasonal Lighting in Gilbert.

Horne has been doing seasonal light displays for 11 years. “As a kid I just loved driving around looking at Christmas lights, I decorated my house like the Clark Griswold house.”  Someone suggested to him that “you could do this professionally”. Horne thought, “No one’s going to pay me, and then eventually I learned there is definitely people who can not do this, elderly people, people who are afraid of heights, so that’s where I step in and bring Christmas cheer.”

Horne does have these recommendations for your lighting display:

  1. GO WITH AN LED LIGHT:  They will save you a lot of money in the long run. It’s also a lot less likely to fail, you don’t have light bulbs burning out. Get your lights from a reputable company, I tend to go towards the Wonder Shop or the Target brand lights.
  1. ELECTRICAL SAFETY: You never want to plug in more than five to ten sets of lights on one run. Always make sure you are using grounded plugs on your outlets. Never use surge protectors outside or anywhere where moisture is, you don’t want to be like “The Christmas Story”, where you get that fire hazard behind the Christmas Tree.”  Less is better.
  1. LADDER SAFETY: When using a ladder that is vertical against a building, it is always best practice to have someone hold the ladder for your safety. Always keep your center of gravity, parallel with the ladder, and do not reach off the sides of the ladder as well.

Horne urges everyone to do a little lighting at their house, “There no such thing as too little. Anything you can contribute to your local neighborhood, even if its just a single set of lights on your front steps, bring that Christmas cheer to your neighborhood and enter, you’d be surprised how many don’t register, so even if you do something nice and small and modest, it doesn’t have to be the Clark W. Griswold experience, to win a competition up here.”

Horne has photos of lights he has installed and he has all of his contact info, on his Facebook page, Horne Seasonal Lighting.  If you are looking for someone to hire, Go to his FB page and message him, he says, ”I just need a picture of your house, a brief description of what you’re looking to have done and I can provide a quote over the internet.”.

Tanya Smith with the Gilbert Christmas Lighting Contest.

Tanya Smith is helping with this Lighting Contest in Gilbert as a point person. She explains why she wanted this to happen for Gilbert, ”I grew up in Biwabik and remember there being a lighting contest when I was little. Gilbert does not have any Christmas festivities and I’ve always thought it would be fun to do something here.”

Smith has been visiting with businesses in town and asking if they would donate to the prize money. They have also received some private donations. Registration for the contest is free! Registration goes from November 20th to December 20th. Judging is set to be on the 21st with judges being from out of town. Winners will be announced on the 22nd!  You can register in person at Gilbert City Hall or by phone by calling, 218-748-2232.  Any City of Gilbert address is eligible. Hundreds of dollars in prizes.

So, where are all the other Lighting contests and how do you get involved?

CHISHOLM: BRINGING THE LIGHT TO CHISHOLM is on December 14th, 5pm to 7pm. Lights turn on at 5:15pm. Mrs. Claus will be doing a Storytime at the Library, There will be horse-drawn sleigh rides, cookie decorating, face painting. caroling & a photo booth with Santa. Folks will be able to ‘vote’ for their favorite downtown decorations by donating to the Chisholm Food Shelf at boxes located in several places. For more information, go to Bringing Light to Chisholm‘s Facebook Event.


Judging will occur on December 15th and December 16.  Judging teams will be out after dark until 9pm both evenings.  Registration information is available at the Buhl City Hall Registration deadline is Monday, December 11th. For more information, go to the City of Buhl website

VIRGINA – “4th Annual Light Up Virginia Lighting Contest”

Registration has closed for the Lighting Contest in Virginia, hosted by Revive Virginia.  However, there is plenty of time to get out and vote on participating displays. 

View the map of decorated houses and businesses at https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit…

Vote at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/vadecorate

For more information, go to the Revive Virginia Facebook page.

Map of all the houses lit up for the Holidays in Biwabik

BIWABIK – The Biwabik Area Civic Association held their lighting contest during the recent Weihnachtsfest.  Although judging is over, it is still a great place to come and drive through to see all the festive fun. (see map)

AURORA- Hurry!  You will need to register by December 12th.  Aurora’s Lighting Contest is part of their Holiday Heritage Fest.  All addresses will be made public for folks to come see the displays.

Judging is on December 13th – December 16th.  Lights must be on 4:30 to 9pm.  


1st Place: $500

2nd Place: $300

3rd Place: $200

For more information go to the Aurora Holiday Heritage Facebook page.

The Ice Candles in Embarrass several years ago.

Embarrass & Hoyt Lakes have special lightings, as they both create ice candles that are placed in their cemeteries each year. Although these are not part of any contests, they are a must see if you are in the area.  

IN EMBARRASS: December 16th.  Volunteers will meet at the cemetery about 2:00 PM to place and light the candles.  For the best view, wait until at least dusk to drive through the cemetery and if you’re comfortable driving with only your parking lights on, you will have less “light pollution” for your pictures and viewing pleasure.  Coffee and a light lunch will be held at the Embarrass Town Hall from 4-6pm for anyone interested in dropping by to visit with neighbors or meet new friends.  There will be crafts and goodies for all the young children in attendance. 


Terry Olmtead who typically puts out the Ice Candles in Hoyt Lakes says the mild temperatures have been difficult for candle making. We will check in with her in a week or so to see how candles are going in Hoyt Lakes. The Ice Candles are typically put out on Christmas Eve.

Plug it in!  It’s time to sleigh that Christmas feeling!

Joy McJingles write blogs about Iron Range Tourism and Holidays on the RAnge.  Blogs are posted on Thursdays and Sundays.