BRIGHT LIGHTS Residence at 304 Sunnyvale Dr. is glowing with magic and fantasy, decorated for the Holiday Homes contest in Healdsburg. (Christian Kallen)

As in every town, there are many houses in Healdsburg decorated for the holidays, with strings of colorful lights, blow-up Santas and Grinches, tableaus and crèches, and sometimes even invisible speakers playing carols or sleighbell sounds. But some of them are more decorated than others.

For Ariel Kelley, this seasonal explosion of holiday creativity was just one more thing about Healdsburg to love. Of course, Kelley is the mayor of the town for the next 11 months, so her civic pride is to be expected. But this time, she and some friends decided to launch a best-of-holiday light competition as a fundraiser for the Healdsburg Firefighter’s Association.

“I decided to launch this ‘friendly’ competition at a holiday gathering with some of my mom’s friends in Healdsburg in early December,” Kelley told the Tribune. One woman, who lost her family home in the 2019 Kincade fires, said she didn’t have the heart to decorate her rental house, but said she “has been getting her holiday fix by driving around at night with her kids to see all of the good Xmas light displays.”

So the dinner guests launched a conversation about who had the best lights and which houses were always worth visiting. Continued Kelley, “And then we decided it would be fun to create a friendly competition and have it be open to anyone who wanted to enter.”

At first, it was just word-of-mouth, as Kelley gathered addresses and pinned them on a Google map using her former campaign website to promote the friendly competition ( Knowing that the Healdsburg Firefighter’s Association (HFA) has a class of new reserve recruits starting in the new year, Kelley decided to make it a fundraiser for the HFA.

“We were happy the HFA was included in Mayor Kelley’s holiday contest,” said Division Chief Lance Macdonald of Healdsburg Fire. “There are no immediate specific plans for any funds raised in this event, but in general the HFA helps to augment training for reserve firefighters and equipment for the department.”

He added that the Healdsburg Firefighters Association can receive donations at any time via check or Venmo.  

Those who want to vote for a favorite home with holiday decorations can do so on; once the vote is cast, voters will be asked for a donation to the Healdsburg Firefighter’s Association. The winner will be announced on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, as chosen by popular vote.

“We plan to close voting on 12/30 and announce the winner via Instagram live (@Healdsburgmayor) on New Year’s Eve. And the prize has not yet been announced, but it is going to be something very fun,” said Kelley.

Here’s the current list of 15, from Saddle Draw in Parkland Farms to Piper Street just a couple blocks from downtown, north to south:

1.1713 Saddle Draw
2.225 Lorraine Ct.
3.228 Lorraine Ct.
4.304 Sunnyvale Dr.
5.204 Terrace Blvd.
6.215 Terrace Blvd.
7.329 Terrace Blvd.
8.824 Gromo Ct.
9.227 Alexandria Dr.
10.289 Alexandria Dr.
11.288 Monte Vista Ave.
12.615 Grove St.
13.626 Healdsburg Ave.
14.206 Piper St.
15.216 Piper St.
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