Holiday decoration award winners honored for super spirit

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published January 10, 2017


CLAWSON — Steven and Starr Champine chose one of the coldest days of the year to put up their Christmas lights.

“It’s become a tradition,” Steven said, adding that each year, they wait for the cold and light a bonfire before climbing up the ladder.

The couple’s cold and hard work paid off as their home was one of five chosen for the 2016 Holiday Decoration Beautification Awards.

The families were honored during the City Council meeting Jan. 3 and were presented with a commemorative Christmas ornament, including the year and their home address, to add to their decorating next year.

The Champine home on Hendrickson Boulevard caught the eyes of the beautification committee, which drove through the city last month and viewed the nominated homes.

“We had over 35 houses nominated this year for our beautification (awards), and it was fun driving around,” said Clawson Director of Recreation and Senior Services Kathy Leenhouts. “There were lots of houses that had really good lights, so it was hard to pick the best.”

Leenhouts said the Champine home reminded her of a gingerbread house with all of the windows outlined with lights.

“Their house is the tallest house in Clawson — it’s three stories high — so I know that people used to come by and look at it because it is the tallest house, and now with the lights so symmetrical with the white and the red, they did a fine job,” said Mayor Penny Luebs.   Leenhouts said all winners are posted on the parks and recreation page at as soon as they are determined so that residents may enjoy a holiday light drive during the season.

“I hope people were able to get out and take a look around town, because it was very beautiful,” she said, adding her thanks to all families for their holiday contributions.

Other winners included Robert and Pat Stachel, of Langley Boulevard; Kevin and Bonnie Horning, of South Bywood Avenue; David and Michael Zegelien, of Bowers Street; and Bill and Diane Mitchelson, of Gladwin Avenue.

Robert Stachel is a multiple-year winner and has developed the best system for decorating.

“Whatever my wife tells me,” he joked.

Stachel said it takes about a day and a half to put up all of their holiday decorations, and he jokingly said that he uses the fine art of figuring out what is going to work as his secret for success.

The Horning family is also a multiple-year winner.

During the meeting, Leenhouts additionally thanked the nonresidential property owners who were in the holiday spirit this past season.

“A lot of businesses got really involved this year too,” she said.