Christmas carols wafted through the cold, clear night air as members of Lansford Alive! slowly toured the borough in search of the very best Christmas displays of twinkling lights, crèches, bells and bows.

The community improvement group held its ninth annual Christmas House Decorating Contest Thursday, a challenge that saw some perennial and some first-time winners in the six categories. The winners had signs placed at the houses, and received gift certificates for Lansford Alive! member businesses.

Judges Bob Silver, Bob Gaughan, Chris Ondrus, and Sue Solt had a challenging task deciding which displays were the best.

Anthony and Anne Michele Rutch, 741 E. Patterson St., won in the category of "Lighting," (The spirit of the holiday season with a display of lights), with a dazzling display that included blue wreaths and multicolored garlands on trees.

Adjoining homes at 335/337 E. Bertsch St. won in the "Holiday Neighbors" category (two or more homes in a row), with multicolored icicle lights, a parade of Santa, a snowman and an angel in front of the homes and a large blue-lit star atop the house.

The best display in the "Whimsical" category (Can be seen through the eyes of a child) was again captured by John and Betty Mogilski of 14 E. Bertsch St. The Mogilskis' home features an animated Santa on the front porch, Christmas carols and a side yard transformed into a Christmas wonderland with brightly lit scenes featuring snowmen, reindeer, a Ferris wheel, elves and Santa's house. Betty Mogilski said the huge display took them only about a week to build (they store the already-assembled characters in their basement). The couple has plans to expand the display next year, perhaps with icicle lights around the roof.

Annette and Michael Rehatchek of 312 W. Abbott St. won the prize for their "Traditional" category (best decorations traditionally associated with the holiday season) decorations. The couple, whose home is known for its seasonal decorations, decked the halls - and front porch, windows and steps - with brightly-lit snowmen, Santas, wreaths, trees and red bows. Annette Rehatchek's exclamations of delight echoed through the neighborhood as the committee awarded the couple their prize.

The "Creativity" prize (Best use of imagination, non-traditional) went to Ceil Enama of 210 Cortright St. Her home features trees wrapped with bright green lights, under which two reindeer trimmed with white lights can be seen. Blue icicle lights and blue-lit wreaths add to the twinkling display.

Finally, the "Theme" category (Decorating focused on an aspect of the holidays) was won by Paul and Angie Blasko of 235 W. Ridge St. The couple's front porch was complete with a life-size Santa. Brightly-lit garlands and wreaths, trees and an old-fashioned, well-dressed-for-the-Christmas-season family rounded out the display.