Center Line shines brightly with ‘Light Up the Sky’

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published December 13, 2023

 Shutterstock photo

Shutterstock photo


CENTER LINE — Center Line illuminates brilliantly for the holidays each year as the city celebrates its annual Light Up the Sky contest.

The more than 20-year celebration of decorating homes and businesses with lights generates excitement and buzz around the city for residents and those just driving through town. Anyone can nominate their favorite light displays.

“We are trying to get people, neighbors, friends, people who drive through to nominate. You have to be nominated in order to be a contestant,” said Dennis Zelazny, president of the Center Line Beautification Commission. “The idea is, we want to get the public involved and businesses to be involved.”

“It promotes people to get out there and decorate the front of their houses and join together,” said Shawn Massaria, Center Line’s Parks and Recreation director. “I know when I drive up and down the street that’s the one thing, I look forward to (seeing) the houses lit up.”

The judges — Barbara Rondello-Bucher, who chairs the event, and Robin Koester — will drive up and down the streets of Center Line viewing the businesses and homes.

“As a sidebar, a footnote, our judges can nominate something if it hasn’t been nominated,” said Zelazny.

“I want to see how many neighbors will nominate. Individuals can nominate themselves. You can nominate your neighbors. You can nominate a business,” Zelazny said.

In past years, it has appeared that the bigger the display is, the better. This year, Zelazny wants to make it possible for any display to be a contender.

So whether it is a business decorated in lights, a large home on a large lot or smaller home on a small lot, “Everybody has a shot at it,” said Zelazny.

“This judging is based on creativity, what you have used, how you have placed it,” Zelazny said. “Even if you just have one ornament and you have put it on a tree in the front of your house and then put a spotlight on it. It might be one of those situations, you look at (the decoration) and say that’s not a bad idea. I want people to be proud of what they have done, and I want them to get (recognized) for it.”

Zelazny has had a four-decade career in marketing and advertising. This is his first year as president of the Center Line Beautification Commission. He wants residents to know about the group and he wants to grow the group.

“The commission is no longer just about our nine gardens. Our commission is about our entire city,” he said. “I want everybody to know that the Center Line Beautification (Commission) is a group.”  

“I am excited about this. I have the mayor, Mr. Bob Binson, who has joined our group,” said Zelazny.

The winners will receive awards, Zelazny said. 

To nominate a home or business light display, call Center Line City Hall at (586) 757-6800 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., now through Dec. 20.

The winners will be presented their trophy and letter of acknowledgement from the city at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2024, during the City Council meeting at the David W. Hanselman Municipal Complex at 7070 E. 10 Mile Road. All meetings are open to the public. 

Call Staff Writer Gena Johnson at (586) 498-1069.