Much of Howard County knows Charles Daniels' house is one of the must-see decorated houses at Christmastime.
Now, the rest of the country will know it as well.
Daniels' Durham Road East house, which won Columbia Patch's Deck the House contest, has been selected one of 24 finalists to vie for the $100,000 grand prize that would go to Howard County Public Schools if he wins a national contest that begins Dec. 30 at 9 a.m. and ends at 11:59 p.m. Jan. 8. Go here to vote now!
Daniels' house can be viewed in the list of finalists at Deck the House. Voters can cast a vote once per day of the voting period.
The people will choose the best decorated house in all of Patch!
"I'm really excited about it," Daniels said Friday. "I've never entered a contest before, so this is pretty exciting."
This is the 12th year Daniels has created "over the top" displays in his yard, and he ranks this year's as only the second best.
In his eyes, the best display was the one he created four years ago with the help of nearly half a million lights.
"With the electric bills going up, I've had to cut back a little," he said. "This year's display has about 250,000 lights."
With the assistance of a quarter-million miniature lights, a vivid imagination and the time of a retiree — he starts crafting the display on Nov. 1 each year — Daniels has created a Christmas forest, complete with lots of deer and two rivers that converge in a pond.
"I put up 15, 25-foot cone trees suspended by cables," Daniels said. "That provides the randomness of the trees that create the forest."
Word of Daniels' popular display has spread by word-of-mouth over the years, and visitors are welcome to park their cars and walk onto the property to get a closer look.
This year has already been special to Daniels because of an unusual outpouring of appreciation from visitors.
"This year, more than any other, people stop, get out of their cars, walk into the yard and hug me and thank me for doing this," he said. "I've been hugged, squeezed because people are so grateful — it's been a huggy, huggy year."
As a finalist, Daniels wins $500 to help with that hefty holiday electric bill.
Don't forget that you play a huge role in determining the winner.
We’d like you to help get the word out among your customers, colleagues, relatives and friends that their creative ingenuity and their votes can help our schools win that grand prize.
If Columbia and Maryland can get out the vote, it will also be a special year for local schools.