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DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - December 12, 2008

Danville business with the biggest 'bling' wins award

Decorating contest makes downtown shine

by Geoff Gillette

Danville residents who went downtown the day after Thanksgiving for the tree-lighting ceremony got more than they bargained for when they saw that many of the downtown businesses had lit up as well.

It was part of the Storefront Holiday "Bling" contest, sponsored by Mechanics Bank, as well as the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Danville. Chamber President and CEO Melony Newman said the contest was designed as a way to get the downtown businesses to get into the season. "It's really meant to help inspire the holiday spirit and get our businesses to decorate."

Mechanics Bank Office Manager Jessica Smith agreed. "It's an incentive for our business owners to be a little more creative in decorating their businesses."

The contest began Nov. 28 with judges walking through the town and looking at all the decorations. Criteria for judging included elegant window displays, storefront lighting and holiday style. The only caveat on the contest was that sidewalk decorations would not be part of the judging.

Judges were Smith; Mechanics Bank Assistant Vice President Tony Kallingal; then-Mayor Candace Andersen; and Chamber Board President Elaine Cortez Schroth.

On Dec. 8, Newman, Smith and Town of Danville Economic Development Director Jill Bergman gave out awards to the top three businesses. First Place went to Leku Eder at 178 E. Prospect Ave., for its beautiful display, featuring white lights and Chinese lanterns.

Owner Jeanette Ugarte was surprised to receive the first prize award of $1,000.

"I'm thrilled. This is really good." She said her lighting scheme was designed to work with their building. "We used these clean beaded lights to accentuate the Craftsman building."

Ugarte said the task of putting up the lights was made more challenging by the fact that it is an older building. "There is no master switch, so getting all those lights on is a major thing without blowing the fuses."

Second-place honors went to Sideboard. The restaurant, at 411 Hartz Ave., incorporated many strings of lights as well as an illuminated sign spelling out the restaurant's name.

Owner Ford Andrews said he got the sign from one of his regulars. "It came from some people who dine here on a regular basis. They do big displays for all the major holidays. They had all the letters and loaned it to us for our decorations." Sideboard received $500 for its first runner-up finish.

Further down Hartz Avenue, the beautiful blue cross on the door to Chateau de Sable, as well as the trimmings along the walkway leading into the day spa and salon at 551 Hartz Ave., netted it third place and a check for $250.

Owner Richard Hee was all smiles when presented with the award by Smith and Newman. "This is all new to us and it's exciting for this to happen," he said.

This year marks the first time the contest was held, but gauging by the response and the degree of "bling" that hit Danville, it won't be the last.

Jill Bergman said she was pleased with the great response and hopes residents will come downtown to shop and see the beautiful light displays.

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