Christmas lights get competitive in Monongah this year

Members of the Monongah Christmas Light Fund pose with Santa Claus at a Christmas party last year, which the town is preparing to host once again this year.

MONONGAH – Susan Sanders wants Monongah to be visible from space.

She plans to reach this goal through the use of Christmas lights and decorations, which will light up the town to spread the spirit of the season.

“I want the whole town lit up,” said Sanders, president of the Monongah Christmas Light Fund.

Sanders has headed up the Christmas Light Fund for years, and uses the organization to decorate Monongah for the holidays. This upcoming season, however, Sanders and her light brigade are likely going to have more help from the community, because they are offering a reward for whoever installs the best Christmas lights in town.

“I just come up with all these crazy ideas,” Sanders said. “It’s just to get the town involved.”

According to Sanders, the Christmas Light Fund is a certified nonprofit, so the group can receive donations for Christmas decorations. This initiative, however, is one spurred by the members, who are going to pay out $100 to the first place winner, $75 to the second and $50 to the third.

“We’re not using the Christmas Light Fund money for that,” said Shelly Yankie, vice president of the Monongah Christmas Light Fund. “So we’re just going to get it together ourselves.”

Yankie said the judges for the contest are new to the town who they believe will judge the contest fair and square.

“We have newcomers who are going to be our judges,” Yankie said. “Which gets them really involved, it’s Chuck and Caroline Tice. They helped out with the Halloween party.”

In a town of approximately 1,000 people, this friendly competition may not create a view for the astronauts, but it’s a positive they are trying.

Sanders said the lights will be judged on Dec. 20, which is also the date of the Christmas hay ride and Monongah Christmas party in the town. The leaders of the Christmas Light Fund invite people of the community – and any other community – to take a ride through the decorated streets of the river town, followed by a party at the community building, and the whole thing is free.

With the decorating competition potentially adding to the scope and the scale of the lights in the town, Yankie believes it will be an especially good year to take the ride.

“With everybody decorating, we’re going to have a lot more,” Yankie said. “We’re going to drive around and look at everything too.”

As Sanders explained, this competition was created somewhat out of necessity by the Christmas Light Fund, who have been cut off from buying and putting up more lights. Nevertheless, the organization is still promoting its message, and Sanders is happy to.

“They cut us off on the lights, they said ‘No more lights,’” Sanders said. “But people want to help us, they really want to help out and be a part of it.”

Email Eddie Trizzino at and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.

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