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A house in the Canterbury neighborhood off Cannon Road and El Camino Real displays its Christmas decorations as part of the annual decoration contest. Six awards are given on Dec. 20. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad neighborhood goes all out for Christmas

CARLSBAD — One neighborhood goes all out in the name of Christmas cheer, and a bit of friendly competition.

Residents in Canterbury, off Cannon Road just west of El Camino Real, take their holiday decorations seriously. It may not be Bressi Ranch during Halloween, but with each passing year its reputation and participants grow.

Three streets mainly take part in the festivities, which is concluded with a six-part competition from best street to Santa Claus’s favorite to Best Overall, which is decided by Mayor Matt Hall. Those playing along are judged on Dec. 20 and the public is welcome to attend, said Charlie Capps, who started the event five years ago.

“I thought wouldn’t it be fun to do a lights and display contest,” he said. “It has morphed into doing it every year and we have six different categories.”

Through one of his neighbors, Capps was able to include Hall as a judge for the Best Overall home. Capps, who lives on Ciardi Court, does not enter the competitions, but he does dole out the Santy Claus award for his favorite.

The other categories include the funniest, best use of lasers, projectors and inflatables, best street and the Griswold Award, a nod to the cult classic movie “Christmas Vacation” for best use of lights.

On the night of judging Capps dons his Santa suit and tosses out candy from the back of a truck, while Hall rides upfront as the two drive around the neighborhood judging.

In addition to his judging responsibilities, Capps also makes wooden Dr. Seuss-style Christmas trees for his neighbors. This year he had about 60 orders, and he also posted two at the entrance of the neighborhood off Cannon Road.

Capps and his neighbor joined forces for a cued light display, which people can listen to on 89.1 FM.

“I want to instill a sense of community at Canterbury and I think having these kinds of things, people get outside and talk with their neighbors,” Capps said. “I grew up in a neighborhood that was like that where we knew everyone. I wanted my kids to have that.”

Resident Sharon Doyle said she goes all out each year, noting she has won several awards over the years. This year, though, she is hoping to bring a winter wonderland to her home with a snow machine and interactive visuals.

One goal, she said, is to have snow and a small sledding slope for kids to slide down. Another is to have a human snow globe, which will have a Christmas symbol, such as the Nutcracker or Santa, waving to those watching.

Doyle, who also does a Halloween display, said she typically starts her Christmas creation about a month or so before the judging. One challenge for her is her lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and swelling, so she has help in setting up her display.

“I think it’s a sense of community, especially for the young kids because they like to come and see the lights and animation,” Doyle said. “It’s this sense of everyone getting together and helping each other out.”