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Popularity of light shows affirmed with 2020 contest

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The Tracy Rotary Club’s decision to once again sponsor the annual Holiday Decorating Contest has proved to the right one. This year’s contest has proved to be a success, which bodes well for the service club to continue its sponsorship in future years.

Nelson Hu, a local orthodontist and Rotary member, agreed to chair this year’s contest, and he and other judges were making the rounds Monday evening judging entries.

Splitting the entries into those with traditional decorations into those with animated light shows has given new rationale for the judging, since the entries in the two categories are far different with the development of computer-generated animated light shows.

The winning entries are reported in today’s edition of the Press. They give you an idea of the best of the entries, but there are any number of entries that were also worth a close look by the judges.

Adding to the contest was the offer by Tracyite Tom BetGeorge, the godfather of animated light shows not only in our town but throughout the nation, to generate donations for McHenry House Tracy Family Shelter and Brighter Christmas.

Several entrants commented that they appreciated the return of the contest, noting it had become part of the Tracy holiday tradition.

Mary Curtin, although not a winner, is enthusiastic about the contest and its connection to Tracy. In part, she wrote:

“I’ve never entered before, but Christmas is my favorite holiday. Although my daughter is grown, I still love to decorate and share the magic of the Christmas season with all of our neighbors. We have a vintage Santa and reindeer set out front, in addition to lots of other lovely holiday lights and decorations. Thank you so much for holding this contest. It’s a happy distraction to the things going on around us. It’s something that reminds us of how special the holidays are, that in a stressful time, we can all enjoy the simple things of just driving around and looking at beautiful Christmas lights.”

Outdoor dining: Keep it alive

Driving down 10th Street the other day past the closed outdoor dining set-ups in the street, I couldn’t help thinking that including the closing of outdoor dinning in the current set of COVID-19 restrictions makes no sense.

Restaurant owners along with the Tracy Civic Center Association and the City of Tracy have made substantial investments in outdoor dining facilities, which when open had kept businesses going and the downtown alive.

And there haven’t been any convincing arguments that I’ve heard that outdoor dining is one of the problem areas in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Sure, making certain tables are spaced out adequately could help, but not complete closing.

It’s time for the folks in Sacramento to take another look at what works and what can keep the food-service industry in our town and up and down the state alive in the process.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at

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