by Emily Canning-Dean
Evidence of the Spradlin family’s love of Christmas can be found both inside and outside of their home on Lakecrest Boulevard.
Mike and Jen Spradlin’s living room is donned with a wide range of Christmas decorations, ranging from brand new to antique. Their daughters, Riley, 8, Grace, 7, and Emma, 5, are excited to show off the mess their Elves on the Shelf made in the downstairs powder room.
Outside, their house, trees and bushes are adorned with multicolored lights. The front yard boasts a multitude of fun holiday characters, including Santa in his sleigh with his eight reindeer ascending into the air.
While the Spradlins are thrilled to be the winners of Hinckley’s holiday decorating contest, getting festive at Christmas has been a longtime family tradition.
Jen, whose birthday falls on Christmas Day, has been in a friendly Christmas decorating contest with her sister for the last few years.
“My sister, who lives in Ashland, gave me a picture of the outside of her decorated house and declared herself the winner for Christmas of 2021,” Jen said, pointing to a framed photo on her living room wall.
Mike said he also grew up with decorations being a big part of his Christmas.
“My dad has decorated like this my whole life,” he said. “He still does a lot of decorations at his house in Stow.”
At Mike’s first house in Akron, he started with just a string of lights along the gutter.
“Then I added a little more each year and then I met Jen and we got married and added more,” he said. “And then we had kids so we decided we had to go really big after that.”
The Spradlins have been wowing their neighbors with their decorations since they moved to Lakecrest Boulevard in 2018. In fact, it was their next-door neighbor who entered them in Hinckley’s contest.
“I remembered seeing something about the contest on Facebook, but then our neighbor said she was going to take a picture of our house and enter it,” Jen said. “She is a really good friend.”
“I had no clue we would be the winners,” Mike said. “I didn’t even have any idea how many houses had entered. I think we will enter again next year. We have a title to defend.”
The Spradlins generally start decorating at the beginning of November when they take down their Halloween decorations. They add new features to their outdoor display every year.
“This year we added permanent lights to our house and we can change the color,” Jen said.
“I’ve gotten stuff from my dad over the years and my uncle,” Mike said. “And we usually hit up the after Christmas sales to pick up new items.”
“We are planning to add a big piece to the display next year and we will be working on that over the summer,” Jen said. “That will be a surprise.”
While the Hinckley holiday contest is the first in recent years, Trustee Monique Ascherl said the tradition was founded in the township approximately 30 years ago.
“It used to take place every single year and we thought it would be a good idea to bring it back,” she said. “A lot of the residents here now didn’t even live here when we did it before.”
Ascherl said seven contestants entered the competition this year and pictures of the top five houses are displayed on the township’s website. Students at Hinckley Elementary School voted to pick the winners.
“Prior to COVID, the trustees would take a day to go to the school and have a mock trustee meeting,” Ascherl said. “This year we did things a little differently. Each of the department heads gave an overview of what they do in the township and then for the trustee portion, we showed the kids the pictures of the houses and they got to vote for the winner.”
Ascherl added that the activity was a good way to teach students about voting and how majority rules.
“We would like to make this an annual tradition and when we asked the kids if they would like to do this again next year we got a resounding ‘Yes!’” she said. ∞
Hinckley Elementary School students selected the Spradlin family’s Lakecrest Boulevard home as the winner of the first, in what is expected to become an annual, holiday lighting contest in Hinckley Township. Photo by Emily Canning-Dean.
On our cover (photo): Mike and Jen Spradlin, pictured with daughters Riley, Grace and Emma, pose outside of their Lakecrest Boulevard home which Hinckley Elementary School students selected as the inaugural winner of the new Hinckley holiday decorating contest. Photo by Emily Canning-Dean.