Southland homes decorated for the holidays 2012
By Jessi Virtusio email@example.com December 19, 2012 2:37PM
Martin and Alice Vilimek's home in Bridgeview at 7821 Columbia Drive has won many awards through the years.
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:15AM
It’s that time of year when Southlanders enjoy checking out how their neighbors have decorated their homes for the holidays.
Here’s a look at a few sites that are decked out but we welcome more suggestions, so post a comment below with your must-see sites.
7821 Columbia Drive
“It has won many awards over the years and has been highlighted in books, newspapers and magazines because of its unique array of Christmas decorations and firefighter and patriotism elements,” Martin and Alice Vilimek said of their home.
“Simply put it celebrates our love of Christmas by embracing all things that make Christmas special — the birth of Christ, Santa Claus, Christmas trees and patriotism.
“Why patriotism? Because we need to honor the very freedoms that allow us to celebrate this holiday in the manners a free society enjoys.”
As for the meaning of Christmas, the couple said it’s “the joy that is brought to us by seeing so many people come by and see our home, reigniting memories of bygone Christmases.
“It is the time of year when cherished family and friends come by and visit us, making even more memories on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for us to enjoy with those loved ones for years to come.”
The Vilimeks recalled their best Christmas present.
“Forty-three years ago on Dec. 17th, our son Marty was born,” the couple said.
“Three days after his birth, Marty, his sister Dawn and we went to the volunteer Bridgeview Fire Department Christmas party, and he was in his little Christmas outfit.
“Forty-three years later now, Marty has been a firefighter for 25 years. He is a lieutenant and acting district chief for the Dunedin (Fla.) Fire Department.
“We are so proud of our 43-year-old Christmas present. Marty has two great sons along with his wonderful wife, Angela, while Dawn has provided us with two beautiful young granddaughters and Dawn is married to a great guy named Sam.”
The Vilimeks have decorated their home for the last 40 years.
“Portions of the display are designed to salute firefighters as Martin is a retired Bridgeview firefighter,” the couple said.
“Not to be left out of the display is a fine salute to American patriotism as is evidenced by the big 8-foot flag display on the west end of their home.
“It takes several weeks to create this display, which has been highlighted in magazines, hardcover Christmas house display books and many a local newspaper.
“Since it is so close to Midway airport, their friends joke that at the holiday season, the nearby Midway flight control tower has to reroute any incoming flights due to the incredible array of lights that are so wonderfully on exhibit at the Vilimek home.
“This home is truly worthy of being titled locally as the house with the best Christmas spirit inside and out. On a personal note, (we) have been married 46 years and have two grown children, four grandchildren and two cats, Holly and Amber.”
Recently, the Vilimeks won the Clark Griswold Award from the Bedford Park District and also were in “The Best Christmas Decorations in Chicagoland,” which is an award-winning guidebook to more than 200 spectacular displays.
6436 W. 85th Place
“This home features a free 30-minute music and light show that appeals to both young and old alike,” said Jessica Munoz, daughter of homeowners Dennis and Susan Laff.
“The enormous 20-foot tree and star sequenced to holiday music is draw enough, but when paired with an additional 10,000-plus light-emitting diode lights ‘dancing’ to music, it is a sight not to be missed.
“Parents might also find the virtual Santa in the window to add a little bit of magic to the season.”
Munoz, of Burbank, said the house placed second in 2010 and 2011 and first this year in the Burbank Park District’s annual Best Decorated Home Contest.
This year’s display includes 26 wire light frames, mini trees, strobe lights, a pink Santa pig and appearances by the Peanuts gang and the Grinch.
Videos of the holiday music and light show, which runs on the hour from 7-10 p.m. nightly, can be found at youtube.com/user/laffdennis.
The show can be listened to in the viewer’s car when the radio is tuned to 88.3 FM.
“My dad started decorating for Christmas when he was 12 and lived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood,” Munoz said.
“He won the neighborhood decorating contest for the display he created for his childhood home.
“After the first two grandchildren were born in 2008, he started seriously decorating for the grandkids in 2009.
“He hand-fabricated a 20-foot tree and star and has spent countless hours sequencing all components of the display to holiday music.
“Since the lights are so bright and in perfect alignment, we joke that the airplanes landing at Midway airport might mistake the house for a runway.
“A couple got engaged (recently) after the 7 p.m. show. The display’s scrolling sign popped the question and she said, ‘Yes.’ ”
Munoz added, “Christmas is a time to create memories with family and friends.
“It is a time to cherish the innocence of our children and the magic of the season. It is a time to take a moment to make the life of someone else a little better.”
As for the best Christmas gift she received, Munoz said, “I can honestly say that there is no gift I have ever received that compares to having a healthy, happy family that spends time together.
“I love seeing the excitement that my boys, Cooper and Max, have when watching the holiday music and light show at my parents’ house.”
99th Street and Campbell Avenue
Bill Sullivan called the entire block “amazing” on SouthtownStar’s Facebook page.
13457 Arabian Drive
“We spend many hours putting up the yearly decorations, and it’s the nicest and neatest in the area,” said TJ Dugan, who lives at this home with his wife, Marie.
When it comes to the meaning of Christmas, Dugan said it’s “family and it’s the birthday of Jesus. We all get together and have an Italian seafood dinner on Christmas Eve.”
His family includes children Maggie, 22; Katie, 17; and Andy, 13, as well as their 8-year-old dog Buddy and their kitten Mao.
Animals definitely play a part in the Dugans’ lives, as this is what Dugan said when asked about the best Christmas gift ever received:
“If you ask our daughter Maggie, it would be her border collie puppy Buddy.”
15208 Ventura St.
“The house features a multitude of miscellaneous plastic figurines,” homeowner Janet Smith said. “Come see for yourself and enjoy.
“Christmas, to me, is about spending time with family and enjoying the spirit of the season.
“The best Christmas present I ever received was a pink kitchen set when I was 5. It took up one whole corner of my parents’ living room.
“My house is one of many in the area that is a must-see for one and all. There is a list of houses on the Oak Forest Park District Facebook page for more addresses.”
24 Mohawk Drive
Leon and Kitty Begonia’s neighbors sent the following note about this site:
“Well, folks, Leon Begonia did it again! He started in late October stringing his lights on the tree and around the window covers and the garage.
“Fifty percent of the decorations he made himself besides holding a full-time job at Advanced Mobility in Monee.
“His son Michael Murray, of Blue Island, does most of the high stuff (age, you know). All the lights are synchronized to the music.
“New additions to the house this year are the giant star on the chimney, remembering his beloved black Labrador Starr, which passed away in late August.
“Quite a few of the neighbors come for the lighting, and they all love it. Mohawk Drive has not been the same since Leon and Kitty moved in.
“The lights will stay on through Jan. 1st in memory of Leon’s son Jason (1977-2006).
“Please stop by and take a look, and happy holidays from all the neighbors on Mohawk Drive.”
8639 S. 78th Ave.
“Christmas is the biggest holiday for us. We love decorating our home inside and out,” Annette and Joe Mitchell said.
“The outside of our home has Santa and Mrs. Santa waving in front of Santa’s sleigh with reindeer, our little gingerbread town with the gingerbread people, Ferris wheel, Santa train, snowmen, soldiers, candy canes and the hundreds of lights dancing to music.
“This is what we love to do, especially when we see the faces of the children that come by to see our Christmas display. People come by every year to see our house, and it makes us feel so good when they tell us, ‘We come to your house all the time to see your beautiful decorations.’
“That’s what decorating is all about, seeing the smiles on all of the children’s faces. Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.”
Jessi Virtusio blogs about music, movies and much more on Elaborating on Entertainment at blogs.southtownstar.com/entertainment.