Arizona Man Celebrates A 'Light Christmas' as Owner of America's Most Festive Home

Sears Names Bernard Rix from Phoenix as Winner of National Contest; Rix Receives $10,000 Sears Gift Card

Even without Rudolph, Santa should have no problem finding Bernard Rix's house on Christmas Eve.

With more than 90,000 lights, 55 pieces of original artwork created exclusively for this year's display, and 98 miniature trees, the Phoenix, Ariz. house was named "America's Most Festive Home" this holiday season by Sears, which sponsored the national contest. Rix, who begins preparing for the annual display in March and spends more than 1,300 hours creating his masterpiece, can now turn his attention to finishing his holiday shopping, as he was awarded a $10,000 Sears gift card for his first place entry.

Rix's passion for holiday decorating began in the seventh grade when he and his twin brother decorated their parent's home with a single strand of lights. As a senior in high school, Rix began to add original artwork outside his parent's house. Now, more than 45 years later, Rix's house has become a well-known neighborhood tourist attraction.

For Rix, the holiday season isn't confined to one month. He begins creating his artwork for the display in March. By September, he's ready to begin decorating the inside and outside of his home.

"I love to see the surprised look on people's faces when they come into the house," Rix said. "After 27 years of decorating my home for the holidays and opening my house to the public, those who visited my display with their children are now visiting with their grandchildren!"

The Sears Search for America's Most Festive Home contest attracted entries from New York to Hawaii and was judged on creativity, thematic presentation and visual impact.

Sears awarded 2nd place -- and a $5,000 Sears gift card -- to the Kirschmann family of Vancouver, Wash. for their display that features a Bavarian village, castle and animated ice skaters. Third place -- and a $2,500 gift card -- went to 22-year-old Timothy Denno of Palatine, Ill. for his festive village that includes a chorus of characters.

Seven runners-up, who each received a $1,000 gift card, were awarded to Pablo Colon (Stratford, Conn.), Todd Fuller (Mesquite, Texas), John Hamilton (Roseville, Calif.), Frank Italiano (Cherry Hill, NJ), the Lord family (Sacramento, Calif.), Todd Ramquist (Safety Harbor, Fla.), and Manny Sy (Ewa Beach, Hawaii).

"A recent Sears survey revealed that more than 97 percent of us have driven to another neighborhood specifically to view a spectacular outdoor holiday display," said Greg Inwood, divisional merchandise manager of seasonal shops for Sears. "The 'Sears Search for America's Most Festive Home contest' salutes all those enthusiastic home owners who generously provide us with that extra dose of holiday cheer each year."

More than 60 percent of Americans claim they annually decorate the outside of their home for the holidays. In 2002, Santa-related merchandise has glided past sales of snowman-related items, which had been at the top of the decorating list for the past two years.

Sears, Roebuck and Co. (NYSE: S) is a broadline retailer with significant service and credit businesses. In 2001, the company's annual revenue was more than $41 billion. The company offers its wide range of apparel, home and automotive products and services to families in the U.S. through Sears stores nationwide, including approximately 870 full-line stores. Sears also offers a variety of merchandise and services through its Web site, . In June 2002, Sears acquired Lands' End, a direct merchant of traditionally styled, classic Lands' End clothing offered to customers around the world through regular mailings of its specialty catalogs and online at .

                            UNCOVERED BY SEARS

In conjunction with the 'Sears Search for America's Most Festive Home contest', Sears conducted a survey to learn more about Americans' passion for outdoor holiday decorating. Some of the results include:

  -- "Steady" (non-blinking) lights are three times more popular for holiday
     displays than blinking lights.

  -- 75 percent of outdoor decorators include colored lights in their
     displays while 25 percent prefer to use white lights exclusively.

  -- More than one-third of outdoor holiday decorators like to mix secular
     (non-religious) decorations (such as Santas and reindeers) with
     religious decorations (such as nativities).

  -- The majority of outdoor holiday decorators spend between two and five
     hours creating their holiday wonderland.

  -- More than 20 percent of outdoor holiday decorators have climbed onto
     their roofs to mount decorations.

  -- More than one quarter of outdoor holiday decorators don't start their
     decorating until at least the second week of December.

  -- 80 percent keep the holiday lights turned on through New Year's Day,
     while more than 50 percent keep them turned beyond Jan. 1.


EDITORS' NOTE: A photo of the winning house is available at

SOURCE: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

CONTACT: Donetta Allen of Hunter Public Relations, +1-212-679-6600, or
Kathleen M. Connolly of Sears, Roebuck and Co., +1-847-286-4644

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