With the holiday season fast approaching, thousands of residents who take joy in sharing the spirit of the season with their friends and neighbors by decorating their homes for Christmas can also win prizes this year in the annual Christmas Outdoor Lighting Contest.

The Deseret News, Utah Power and Light and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), are again sponsoring the contest, which is open to homes insouth Davis and Salt Lake counties. Judges from IES will consider originality, theme, use, number of lights and use of additional decorations as well as artistic merit as criteria for determining winners.A new aspect this year according to Jim Turner, Market Specialist with Utah Power, are duplicate prizes for both first-time entries and those that have previously entered. "We decided we wanted to increase our participation by offering equal prizes for someone who may have never entered before. In the past, some have felt intimidated by those who have been decorating for as long as 20 or 30 years and we think we've overcome that obstacle by offering equal prizes for first-timers and old-timers," said Turner.

As entries come in they are plotted on a map. If past participation holds true, there will likely be seven to eight areas that entries will be clustered in. In each area two first place winners will each receive an indoor electric grill from Utah Power. Second place winners in each area will win a $25 gift certificate, courtesy of the ZCMI Center. Third place winners in each area will each win two sets of outdoor lights donated by General Electric.

The deadlines are important to remember as the contest gets underway. All entries are due at the Deseret News by Friday, Dec. 7 at noon. Please see the accompanying coupon. Judging will take place the evenings of Dec. 7-13 and winners will be announced in the Dec. 16 issue of the Deseret News.

Last year over 100 homes were entered in the contest and more entries are expected this year. A complete list of entries, divided into geographical areas, will be listed in the Deseret News on Dec. 9.

All entrants should leave their lights on from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. the evenings the judging will take place. Judges will not make contact with entrants, so no one should feel they have been missed if not contacted.

A brochure complete with an entry form is available at all Utah Power offices in South Davis and Salt Lake countiesand at many of the stores that sell Christmas lights and decorations. The brochure is also available at the Deseret News, 30 E. 100 South. For more information, call the Deseret News community relations department, 237-2136.