Wesselhoft’s Holiday Lighting Tradition Takes First Place in City of Lights Contest

The home of the late Alma Viola Smith Wesselhoft, decorated by her daughter Carmen, brightens the Cruz Bay night.

Homes and offices across St. John were decked out for the holidays, but only one was honored for having the best decorations on the island.

The home of the late Alma Viola Smith Wesselhoft, decorated by her daughter Carmen Wesselhoft, won first prize in the fifth annual 2005 City of Light Contest, which is sponsored by the Department of Tourism.

“I’ve won for the past four or five years, from the time that they started the contest, I believe,” said Wesselhoft. Her late mother began decorating her Cruz Bay home more than 40 years ago.

“My mother started the tradition years ago, when she put a string out in the tree,” Wesselhoft said. “She was the first to do it, and I just continued. The decorations have definitely grown from one tree to many trees.”

Wesselhoft spent weeks decorating the house and grounds with a special theme.

“This year, it was a special tribute in my mother’s honor, since she passed away on July 5,” she said. “That is why I used a lot of angels, candles and doves—to honor her memory.”

Although the usually festive decorating effort was sad this year, Wesselhoft found some joy in her family’s Christmas tradition.

“It was hard this year, because my mother is not here, but I know that she would want me to continue the tradition,” said Wesselhoft. “I’m also glad that the community as a whole enjoys the lights, too.”

Yvonne Tharpes won the second prize, and the Department of Public Works took third-place honors.

The displays were judged on project theme, design concept, attractiveness, creativity and use of renewable energy technology.

Winners receive a monetary prize.