Finding George and Sandra Berry’s Southold home is no easy feat.
It’s located at 345 Willow Pond Lane, which is a couple of turns off Main Bayview Road. The house is on a hill, near a bend on a dead-end street you’ve likely never driven down.
Since there’s very little traffic near their home, the Berrys don’t decorate to please the masses each holiday season. Instead, the high school sweethearts put in countless hours of work preparing their house for the enjoyment of their 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren on Christmas Day.
Their festive home, which was selected this week as the winner of Times Review Media Group’s second annual Deck the Halls holiday decorating contest, is worth going out of your way to see.
“It’s a beautiful winter wonderland,” said Liz Person, one of two judges to give the Berry home a “perfect 10.” For their efforts, the couple will receive a $1,000 gift card from Riverhead Building Supply, the grand prize sponsor of our contest.
The Berrys first began putting extra effort into decorating for the holidays about a decade ago, they said. Mr. Berry, 80, hangs white icicle lights on the front of the house and projected images of snowflakes fall from a detached garage.
The lawn displays also use mostly white lights, though there are the touches of red in Santa’s suit or Rudolph’s nose. A North Pole scene and a life-sized snowman are highlights.
It’s not until you actually step inside that you get the full of effect of the Berry home. That’s where the many years of collecting holiday decorations and the personal touches can be experienced.
“Many of the decorations have nice family stories behind them,” noted judge Lauren Sisson.
There’s the more than 75-year-old Lionel train set Ms. Berry’s father bought for her first Christmas. It runs around their spinning Christmas tree through a ceramic winter village.
Also noteworthy is the story behind the family’s crêche, which was purchased from Woolworth’s with pieces costing as little as 19 cents.
“Back then we couldn’t afford to buy the whole set at once,” Ms. Berry said with a smile.
Eight of our judges rated the Berry home above the other seven houses we visited. None ranked it lower than second, for an average score of 9.3. With added decorations this year, the Berrys improved their overall score from our first contest, in which they finished with the second-best score.
“It’s like walking into the home of Santa and Mrs. Claus,” remarked judge Monique Singh-Roy.
Judge Cerria Torres said she was shocked to “not see Santa sitting inside.”
What resonated most with many of our judges, however, was how the Berrys continue to decorate each year out of the love they have for their grandchildren. It’s a holiday tradition sure to warm your heart.
“While the outside of the home sparkles, the inside warms visitors up with a cozy feeling reminiscent of Christmas Eves spent at their own grandparents’ home as a child,” said judge Vera Chinese.
Click below for more photos of the Berry house from photographer Katharine Schroeder, as well as photos of the runners-up in our annual Holiday Lights contest.