Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Gift to the Community! We heard again and again that this year's light display was one to remember. No matter how many lights you strung on your home this year, you helped contribute to the magic that is our annual fundraiser and you helped support the nine charities that will be benefitting from the collection of over $44,000 this year, so thank you!

The judges' votes were tallied and ribbons were hung on mailboxes. The Best Overall for 2021 goes to the Trimbergers at 54610 Whispering Oak Drive (pictured above). The judges said the wonderfully bright, festive color lights and great use of space in the front yard was a great mix of the different categories. Other award winners are listed below:

Best Overall

1st 54610 Whispering Oak Drive — Trimberger
2nd 15406 Old Bedford Trail — Lorenz/McGill
3rd 54630 Whispering Oak Drive — Strasser

Rookie of the Year

1st 54751 Winding Brook Drive — Swinehart
2nd 54420 Old Bedford Trail — Christiana
3rd 15640 Hearthstone Drive — Kromer

Most Original

1st 15690 Springmill Drive — Ferrell
2nd 54589 Whispering Oak Drive — Williamson
3rd 54450 Old Bedford Trail — Olsen

Best Theme

1st 54559 Whispering Oak Drive — Johnston
2nd 15685 Hearthstone Drive — Smith
3rd 15831 Branchwater Way — Benavente/Gutierrez

Best Faith-Based Theme

1st 15377 Carriage Lane — Bonadies
2nd Little Flower Trail — Bagatini
3rd Briarton Drive — Miller, M.

Clark Griswold Would Be Proud

1st 15649 Springmill Drive — Vellos
2nd 15668 Winding Brook Drive — Gill
3rd 54405 Old Bedford Trail — Onderdonk

Martha Stewart Would Be Proud

1st 54724 Old Bedford Trail — Reber
2nd 54723 Beaver Creek Trail — Polaski
3rd 54739 Bonnethill Trail — Oliva

Best Front Door

1st 54470 Old Bedford Trail — Cocquyt
2nd 15830 Branchwater Way — Montgomery
3rd 54689 Winding Brook Drive — Makielski

Best Artisan

1st 15432 Carriage Lane — Cybulski
2nd 54706 Winding Brook Drive — Putman
3rd 54578 Old Bedford Trail — Craig

Judges' Picks

1st 15628 Baintree Way — Ballew
2nd 54318 Old Bedford Trail — Beristain
3rd 15560 Hearthstone Drive — Elliott

Ryan KreagerRecently joining the Winding Brook Board of Directors is Ryan Kreager who with his wife, Ashley, and three children have lived at 15678 Winding Brook Drive since 2017. He is a software developer and entrepreneur and loves to tinker with new ideas as well as improve his home. So far their kitchen and floors have been redone, a mudroom has been added, and a built-in library. Very impressive! 

Ryan joined the Board because he is focused on the renewed effort with the covenant project and looks forward to sharing his skills in other areas such as a new directory. He feels that living here has been amazing and is blessed with so many great neighbors who are friendly and kind and loves that there are kids who are the same ages as his children. He says that it is easy to forget how great we have it here; it’s just baked into the culture. 

Something of note is that his grandparents, Bob and Maryann Williams, built one of the first six houses in Winding Brook to be near their friends the Cressys. Their home was at 15685 Embers Drive and it is known to some in the neighborhood since it has a half-court basketball court in the basement! His grandfather played basketball for Notre Dame and wanted to pass on his love of the game to his children. 

And what a gift it was! Our neighbors outdid themselves this year and because of their decorating efforts, collections doubled over last year— over $50,000 was generously donated by all who enjoyed the displays. Everyone who took the tour knew it was a special year. 

One post on NextDoor said, ‘Our family has taken the tour of Winding Brook almost every year for the past 40 years. It is always fun and beautiful to see. However, this year was exceptional. Thanks to all of you for giving our community such a wonderful gift especially due to the year we have been through.’ 

Another post said ‘My hats off to the tremendous decorations in Winding Brook. We have lived here since 1990. This year is one of the best overall—the old favorites plus so much innovation.’ 

So many thanks are in order. A huge THANK YOU to all of our neighbors who participated and lit up our neighborhood in their unique styles and made this year extra special. 

This annual event does not happen all by itself. Josh Higginbotham once again spearheaded the effort. Brian Powell, with help from Sharon Burden, stepped up to handle the luminary sales. Jane Mason continued to store and stock the ever popular candy canes. Michael Miller delivered the ‘Gingerbread House’ and helped to do some repairs. Maria Carter placed and pounded the directional signs. Board members took their turns overseeing the charities each night. Special thanks to Kuert for their donation of sand and for Fleet Feet for their contribution of over $1,000. 

The winner of the Best Overall award in the decorating contest is the Trimbergers who live at 54630 Whispering Oak! 

2020 Category Winners

Best Overall

  1. Trimberger 54610 Whispering Oak 
  2. Strasser 54610 Whispering Oak 
  3. Lorenz/McGi" 15406 Old Bedford

Rookie of the Year 

  1. Gill 15406 Old Bedford 
  2. Tepe 54499 Whispering Oak 
  3. Benavente Gutierrez 15831 Branchwater Way

Most Original 

  1. Babcock 54763 Merrifield 
  2. Turner 15655 Winding Brook Drive 
  3. Olsen 54450 Old Bedford

Best Theme 

  1. Smith 15685 Hearthstone 
  2. Johnston 54559 Whispering Oak 
  3. Cybulski 15432 Carriage Lane

Best Faith-Based 

1. Putman, T. 54706 Winding Brook 
2. Bonadies 15377 Carriage Lane
3. Bagatini 54650 Whispering Oak 

Clark Griswold Would Be Proud 

1. Onderdonk 54405 Old Bedford 
2. Stob 54711 Merrifield
3. Kreager 15678 Winding Brook 

Martha Stewart Would Be Proud 

  1. Dickey 15530 Carriage Lane 
  2. Tipton 54596 Old Bedford 
  3. Van Dyke/Vance 54743 Bonnet Hill

Best Front Door 

  1. Beristain 54318 Old Bedford 
  2. Siqueria 15635 Embers 
  3. Fox, J. 15426 Old Bedford

Best Artisan 

  1. Craig 54578 Old Bedford 
  2. Hahn 15394 Whispering Oak 
  3. Rudhman 15496 Carriage Lane 

Here is all you need to know to make this the best year ever!

Springmill is not on the tour this year; however cars will still drive by to see your displays.

Charities will collect donations on December 4–6, 11–13, and December 16 through Christmas Day.

Judging will be the evening of December 14. Banners will be attached to mailboxes indicating winners and prizes will be awarded to residents.

Luminary pick-up will be at the the Powell Home at 54725 Merrifield on the following dates: Thursday, December 17, 3-5pm; and Saturday, December 19, 2-4pm.
You can call Brian Powell at 574-303-4130, if needed. Luminary cost to residents: Minimum donation of .75 per luminary.

Sand will be delivered by December 17 in the Hearthstone cul de sac.

Police officers will direct traffic Christmas Eve.

2020 Charities

Alcohol and Addictions Resource Center (AARC) offers alcohol and other drug prevention, education, advocacy assessment, and referral for individuals and families.

Blue Star Mothers is a private non-profit that supports mothers who havesons or daughters in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Children’s Dispensary the program, A Place to be Me, provides social and recreational programs for young people with developmental, physical and emotional needs.
Center for the Homeless is the largest residential facility in our area for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. The center serves men, women, children and veterans each day. We usually support its Montessori Classroom but due to COVID, it is not currently operating.

Family Justice Center serves as a one-stop help center for victims of sexual and domestic violence. It works collaboratively with other non-profits and governmental agencies so that survivors and their families can quickly and confidentially seek resources and information. S-O-S, the rape crisis center, is also a program of the FJC.

Hannah’s House maternity home provides a safe environment and programming for young pregnant women.

In*Source provides Indiana families and service providers with information and training necessary to assure effective programs and service for children and young adults with disabilities.

Tri Kappa, South Bend Chapter provides financial support for five local charities each year.

Resident Prizes for Decorations

Decorating started early this year when some residents took advantage of the balmy weather prior to Thanksgiving. Perhaps others have followed suit and are ready to vie for the following prizes!

Best Overall
Best Front Door
Best Theme
Most Original
Best Faith-Based Theme
Martha Stewart Would Be Proud
Clark Griswold Would Be Proud
Rookie of the Year — lived here less than a year
Best Artisan (handmade)
Four judges’ picks


Especially for our new residents who have not experienced this time of year in Winding Brook, please know that this is a highly popular event with people coming from literally all over the region. It is their holiday tradition and they come to expect us to outdo ourselves each year. With all of the interest comes traffic particularly Christmas Eve when we light luminaries and are all aglow in more than one way. It gets so busy that police direct traffic for us that evening! Please know that as residents, you have the right to enter Winding Brook Drive against the traffic. Just make it known to the security guards that you live here. The last thing you want to do is get in the line with everyone else and take the tour when all you want is to get home!

Board members Maria Carter, Mariah Cressy, and Brian Powell were the resourceful residents responsible for the absolutely fabulous Halloween Parade! Praise continues to come in days after the very successful event which was well attended on an exceptionally beautiful Fall morning.

Many of our neighbors donated bags of candy. Sorry we don’t know all of your names but please know how appreciative we are of your generosity. Thanks to the many volunteers who heated and poured the cider, distributed candy from creatively set up candy stations in tailgates and on tables: Kyle Umbarger, Zach Dripps, Corinne Craig and her daughters, Mark McGill and Julie Lorenz, Anne Bolster, John and Michelle Slack, Neil and Debra Morey, Michelle Lacay, Michelle Henk, Donna Voor, Mary Jo Trikos and Maryia, and Katie Powell.

Most sincere appreciation to Maria, Mariah, and Brian who organized, bagged candy, set up the photo backdrop, took individual family photos, and just did a spooktacularly great job! Is this the start of a new Winding Brook tradition?!

A link to the online photo album can be found at this link. A sampling of the pictures can be found below!

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