BAMBERG, Germany — For some residents of Warner Barracks, getting into the holiday spirit paid off in gift certificates and prizes from the community.

To encourage community involvement and Christmas cheer, a program sponsored by the 279th Base Support Battalion rewarded community members who put on the best holiday decoration displays, according to Master Sgt. George Vasquez, noncommissioned officer in charge for the directorate of public works.

A four- to five-person committee hit the streets of Warner Barracks, including off-post housing, on Dec. 22 to hunt down the three best-decorated houses and stairwells, Vasquez said.

The judges based their decisions on overall organization, creativity, originality, safety and cleanliness, and capturing the holiday spirit, Vasquez said.

On Christmas Eve, the base support battalion commander and other commanders, accompanied by Santa, presented the winners with a variety of gifts. The gifts included Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift certificates plus certificates for free bowling and car washes, among other things, from the directorate of community activities, Vasquez said.

Awards were given to three houses and three stairwells. They are for winning households, although they are listed under the names of the sponsors. Winners are:

Houses — Master Sgt. William Putnam; Chief Warrant Officer 1 Guy Rabuck; Maj. Rick Kaiser and Lt. Col. Steven Bullimore (duplex, both occupants won prizes)

Stairwells — All who live in the winning stairwells and participated in decorating won prizes. They are Sgt. Mark Searcy, Sgt. Roger Kincaid, Sgt. Randall Freeman, Staff Sgt. Kim Potts, Sgt. John Brennan and Spc. Anthony Reiser; Spc. Michael Lee, Pvt. Robert Carter, Pfc. Stephen McDonald and Staff Sgt. Jason Bacon; and Staff Sgt. Laverne Starr, Pfc. Edsel Stimmell and Sgt. Virgil Martinez.

Although theirs was among the best-decorated houses, the Putnams did nothing special, according to William’s wife, Diane.

“I knew of the contest, but we do this every year,” she said. “I decorate for my kids; they love it. This is our favorite time of the year.”

She comes from a family that went all-out with Christmas decorations, and has been collecting decorations for years. But, she said, the contest may have inspired others to hang a few extra holiday lights.

“I think it helped,” she said. “One of the high points of the holidays is driving around to look at all the Christmas lights. This year, there were a lot of beautiful houses to look at.”

Although her decorations were selected as among the best, her display next year should be even bigger.

“I went to the [post exchange] again this year and bought more decorations during the after-Christmas sales,” Putnam said. “My husband laughs at me, and says: ‘You need to stop.’ But I love this time of year. I can’t help it.”

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