A holiday hat trick: Elk Grove man is 3-time winner of Daily Herald lights contest

  • Richy Sandberg and the holiday display at his house at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village won the grand prize in the Daily Herald's annual holiday lights contest.

      Richy Sandberg and the holiday display at his house at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village won the grand prize in the Daily Herald's annual holiday lights contest. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Richy Sandberg pays tribute to his favorite childhood holiday decoration with more than 200 plastic, lighted figures on his lawn at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village. For the third straight year, he is the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest.

      Richy Sandberg pays tribute to his favorite childhood holiday decoration with more than 200 plastic, lighted figures on his lawn at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village. For the third straight year, he is the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • A 34-piece choir of plastic figures is synced to the radio so visitors can listen to a holiday song at the Elk Grove Village home of Richy Sandberg, the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest.

      A 34-piece choir of plastic figures is synced to the radio so visitors can listen to a holiday song at the Elk Grove Village home of Richy Sandberg, the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • A 34-piece choir of plastic figures is synced to the radio so visitors can listen to a holiday song at Richy Sandberg's house at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village. Sandberg's display is the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest for the third consecutive year.

      A 34-piece choir of plastic figures is synced to the radio so visitors can listen to a holiday song at Richy Sandberg's house at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village. Sandberg's display is the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest for the third consecutive year. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/18/2020 9:02 AM

Richy Sandberg added a socially conscious element to his already spectacular display to win the Daily Herald holiday lights contest for the third year in a row.

"This year, I lit up the middle arch green on the light tunnels to show support for health care professionals," Sandberg said of his exhibit at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village.

 
Richy Sandberg's display at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village is the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest for the third consecutive year. Sandberg added green lights to his sidewalk tunnel in honor a health care workers, an Elk Grove Village movement this summer.
  Richy Sandberg's display at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village is the grand prize winner of the Daily Herald holiday lights contest for the third consecutive year. Sandberg added green lights to his sidewalk tunnel in honor a health care workers, an Elk Grove Village movement this summer. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

Seven-foot lengths of green ribbon were sent to every household in the village during the summer to be tied around trees in support of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Sandberg incorporated that idea into his presentation by wrapping the green mini-lights on the most prominent piece in his display.

The PVC-pipe arches create an inviting tunnel on the sidewalk where many viewers gather to take in the busy front yard that has at least 200 lighted, plastic blow mold characters covering every inch.

Richy Sandberg's contest-winning display at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village has more than 200 plastic blow mold figures in his yard -- most are decades old.
  Richy Sandberg's contest-winning display at 391 Walnut Lane in Elk Grove Village has more than 200 plastic blow mold figures in his yard -- most are decades old. - John Starks | Staff Photographer
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"One of the things that I always saw, that I was always fascinated with as a child were the blow molds," he said of his obsession with the traditional, cartoonish figures smiling from his lawn. "There weren't any light shows or special computer-generated shows when I was a kid. They are very timeless, and you can't think of Christmas without thinking of blow molds."

The usual centerpiece of his winning display is a 34-piece choir of the molded plastic figures singing "Somewhere In My Memory" from the "Home Alone" movie soundtrack. Visitors can tune their car radios to 106.1-FM to hear the music synced to the dancing lights.

At least 20,000 lights outline the house and cover the roof, while dozens of other plastic figures of candy canes, toy soldiers, Disney characters, gingerbread men and other traditional Christmas fare entice passing drivers slow or stop for a few moments to see it all.

Sandberg admits his friends, family and co-workers may have influenced the vote. One co-worker told him she was voting for him every hour on the Daily Herald contest website. But he stands by his audacious display.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I always said when I was a kid that I wanted to do this when I grew up and had my own house," he explained.

As the grand prize winner, Sandberg will receive a $750 Treetime Christmas Creations gift card and a $20 gift certificate from Ala Carte Entertainment, which owns a number of restaurants throughout the area including Moretti's.

The Daily Herald also chooses four Editor's Choice winners, one each from DuPage County, the Fox Valley, Lake County and the Northwest suburbs. Editor's Choice winners receive a $25 Treetime Christmas Creations gift card and a $10 Ala Carte Entertainment gift certificate.

Check out their displays:

Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: Northwest suburbs: Ray Aviles, 3708 Rywick Drive in Rolling Meadows

Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: DuPage County: Rudy Vanderbiest, 1214 Easton Drive in Carol Stream

Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: Fox Valley: Michael Ash, 7438 Grandview Court in Carpentersville

Holiday Lights Contest Editor's Choice Winner: Lake County: Brett Safron, 11 Copperwood Drive in Buffalo Grove

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