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SF firehouses have reignited their holiday decorating contest

San Francisco Fire Department Station 7 at 2300 Folsom St. takes part in the SFFD holiday decorating contest on Dec. 20, 2020. | Scott Strazzante/The SF Chronicle via Getty Images

For the past two years, San Francisco firehouses have reignited a 1940s tradition of a holiday decorating competition. Fire stations across the city can choose to participate, using their own funds to set up whimsical displays. A total of $3,000 in cash prizes will be awarded, to be distributed to local charities. 

After last year’s winner upped the game, this year’s displays have the potential to be even more spectacular. In 2021, the firehouse at 2501 25th St. in the Mission took home the top prize out of 12 participating stations by creating a winter wonderland that included real (which is to say, fake) snow piling on the sidewalks like sea foam. 

San Francisco Fire Department Station 34 at 499 41st Ave. takes part in SFFD holiday decorating contest on Dec. 20, 2020. | Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Across the city, firefighters last year adorned their stations with festive light displays, oversized Santas and neighborhood-specific nods. 

A panel of judges will visit the participating firehouses on the evening of Dec. 21, when residents are encouraged to go out and support their local station. The Grand Judge, Mayor London Breed, will pick the three prize winners from the top choices submitted by the judging panel. 

While the stations are responsible for paying for their own decorations, the winners receive cash prizes ranging from $500 to $1,500 to donate to the charities of their choice.