For the past 14 years he's lived there, Tim Miller has been decorating his family's West York home each Christmas.

And each year the display expands. It now encompasses the entire front yard and the front porch.

"It puts you in the spirit," he said.

But unlike years past, this year Miller could take home a prize for his labor.

The West York Block Watch is holding its first annual West York Neighborhood Decorating Contest. If it's successful, it could become a yearly tradition, said Connie Leedy, a block watch member heading the contest.

"We're trying this," she said. "It'll be nice to see most of the houses in West York decorated."

The contest: To drum up support and gain participants, block watch members have been combing the borough, looking for decorated houses and handing out fliers, Leedy said.

The West York Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary will play the role of independent adjudicators as the houses are rated on Dec. 18 and 19.

Residents could receive gift cards from businesses if they are selected as the winners in one of five categories.

The categories are: "Most Griswold residence," "Best blinged out street," "Most unusual/innovative/creative," "Best use of characters " and "Overall grand prize."

As the person heading the contest, it would be poor form if Leedy didn't decorate her house. That's a task she said she's undertaking soon.


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"It's my idea, so I have to decorate our house," Leedy said. "My house will be decorated this weekend."

Nearly there: Miller has about 80 percent of his decorations set up, including Santas, lights and a train set. He said he still needs to add the finishing touches.

It usually takes him about three weekends to put up the decorations and string the lights, but since the display has grown, it'll take him four weekends this year.

Most of the decorations are second-hand -- items he and his family picked up at yard sales and in thrift shops -- while others were bought new during post-Christmas sales. That leaves some extra money to cover the electric bill, which roughly triples over the holidays.

It also means the Millers have accumulated a lot of decorations.

"We've been talking for years of getting a shed. It's all we can do to get things in the garage," he said.

But the end result is worth the effort. Miller said some passers-by have stopped to compliment him on and thank him for the display, which includes Christmas characters on a Ferris wheel.

In a large homemade display box, Santa Claus is keeping a watchful eye on his animated elves as they make toys. To show that the jolly fat man is tech-savvy and can make electronics, Miller put boxes for a Nintendo Wii, an iPhone and other gadgets on shelves in the workshop.

"Next year there'll be laptop boxes inside," his 14-year-old daughter, Madi Miller hinted.

The contest:

The last day to enter the first annual West York Neighborhood Decorating Contest is Dec. 16 at 5 p.m.

Judging will take place on Dec. 18 and 19. Participates should have their decoration lights on between 5:30 and 11 p.m. those days.

To register for the contest, call Connie Leedy at 858-7327, or Ken Welsh at 683-2399.

-- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.