Fourth of July Home Decorating Contest

Joan Sather (left) and Susan Montgomery sponsor the Home Decorating Contest.

Sponsors: Joan Sather & Susan Montgomery

Show your patriotism, your good taste, your decorating prowess or just have fun by entering the Fourth of July Home Decorating Contest, sponsored by Sotheby’s realtors Joan Sather and Susan Montgomery.

In addition to bragging rights, the winning entry will receive an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol, numerous gift certificates from local businesses, and a chance to judge the 2020 Home Decorating Contest. The winning house will also be featured in next year’s parade program.

After you’ve decorated your home, go to: Palisades4th.com and click on the home contest and fill out a simple form. Take a photo and post it on the Facebook page or via Instagram feed #Palisades4thHomeContest or email it to homecontest@palisades4th.com.

All entries should be posted by July 2 to be included for initial judging. On July 3, Sather, Montgomery, Palisades Co-Honorary Mayors Billy and Janice Crystal, and last year’s winners David Trotti and Amy Kate Connolly will travel the “mean” streets of Palisades for the final judging.

Sather, a longtime Palisadian, has sponsored the contest for the past decade. “My favorite part of the contest is our judging ritual on July 3,” she said. “We have had Jake Seinfeld, Kevin Nealon, & Janet & Billy Crystal. Terrific judges, all. And funny!

“As we drive from house to house in our golf carts, we discuss what we like about each decorated home. One home had absolutely every (and I mean every) surface covered with cute things obviously collected with love over many years,” Sather said.

“Another was decorated by the young grandson who happened to be visiting his grandparents,” Sather said, noting that the boy and family had mostly homemade decorations and couldn’t decide if they should even enter, but did and the judges loved the homespun approach.

“Then there was the ‘yarn bomb’ house where all the trees were wrapped in red, white and blue crocheted-yarn.”

Sather also noted, “Last year the winner used an exuberant profusion of red and white plastic flowers, flowing from window boxes, fences, and among the red, white and blue Adirondack chairs on the front porch.”

The judges later learned that the Totti and Connolly theme was about saving water, but patriotically.

David Trotti and Amy Kate Connolly with their patriotically-decorated home on Haverford.

“Then comes the best part of knocking on the doors of the winners,” Sather said. “One year the winners gathered in their Uncle Sam hats to sing us all a song.”

Last year Sather convinced Montgomery to join her in sponsoring the contest.

“Joan and I met years ago at the office on Sunset Boulevard,” Montgomery said. “We collaborate on various real estate transactions and cover for each other. It’s worked out beautifully.”

The main thing that Montgomery and Sather share is a love of Pacific Palisades. Montgomery, who grew up in Louisville and graduated from the University of Kentucky, moved to Chicago and worked on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange learning to trade commodities.

Her other job was working as a model for magazine shoots, such as Marshall Fields, Sears, Lord & Taylor and also on the Phil Donahue Show, when the top designers were guests on the program, and she wore their fashions.

Montgomery and her husband lived in Brentwood before moving to the Palisades in the late ’90s, which is about the time she started her real estate career with Coldwell Banker. “We moved into a house on Alma Real and the neighbors were so welcoming and helpful with much needed advice, i.e. ‘you’ll need 300 pieces of candy for Halloween!’

“I thought that couldn’t be possible but having to make two last-minute runs to Ralphs that evening, I really did need 300 pieces of candy!” Montgomery said. “The neighbors also let us know that on the morning of the Fourth there would be hundreds of runners jogging past our house. My twins were three years old at the time and I still remember their wide-eyed faces looking out the front window as throngs of people went by.

“When we moved in, we received plates of cookies, notices in the mailbox with babysitters’ names, etc. Having lived in various parts of L.A. since 1985, I really thought that I had landed on another planet, or Mayberry RFD, and I was elated,” said Montgomery, who is now divorced. “It’s all about community and family here, and the myriad choices of incredible schools, both public and private, are second to none.”

Sather also started out in a Brentwood apartment with her husband Kent. She was the child of a Naval officer, and had lived all over the United States, including Hawaii, plus three years in France. During the many moves, she attended five elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and two colleges, before graduating from UC Berkeley.

Through friends, the couple heard about Pacific Palisades and started house hunting. “We looked quite a while before we found something we could afford in the Marquez Knolls area,” said Sather, who was pregnant with her first child. (They have two adult children and now grandchildren.)

After they purchased the home and lived here almost a year, Kent accepted a job offer in Arizona. They went to look at houses and he asked Joan, “Which one do you want to put an offer on?” To which she replied, “I don’t want to make an offer. I don’t want to leave the Palisades.”

Sather said she didn’t think about her response. “It just came out of my heart. After moving around so much as a kid, I wanted to stay here.”

Praising her husband, Sather said that Kent responded by saying, “Guess I’ll have to quit my job and come back to L.A.”

Sather said that to be in Pacific Palisades on the Fourth of July is “a magnificent combination of community and patriotism. The day is so full. First the 5/10K, then the parade, then the concert and fireworks.

“It is a long delicious day of hanging out,” Sather said. “It seems so very special because it could only happen in a town as wonderful as Pacific Palisades.”

Montgomery’s twins, Madison and Paulina, are now 24 and work in New York City and Colorado Springs, respectively. They will both fly back to join their mom for the Fourth of July holiday.

This home on Radcliffe was a runner-up in the 2018 contest.

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