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Deck The (Outdoor) Halls With Boughs Of Holly … And More

Published: December 22, 2016

By Nancy K. Crevier

Simply looking to bring some fun into Newtown, Sandy Hook resident Lois Barber decided on the spur of the moment to organize a holiday outdoors decoration contest this year. A similar event took place in her own hometown in New Jersey, she recalled, and was a favorite with participants and viewers alike.

Within days of posting the event on Facebook last month, Ms Barber said there were hundreds liking the page, and as of December 20, that number had grown to 1,190.

By December 4, she had to put an early end to the original December 6 deadline, due to the popularity. With 40 entries, she realized it would be more than enough for judges to take look at on December 18.

So as dusk descended on Newtown this past Sunday evening, “the ‘Christmas Critics,’ as we like to call ourselves,” explained Ms Barber, were steered about town on a three-plus-hour tour of homes by bus driver George Linebarger, in a school bus provided by All-Star Transportation, at no cost. Judges Robin Holland Buchanan, Janice Butler, Lauren Morehouse, Melanie Allen Mattegat, Jacey Mattegat, Sandyha “Sandy” Sridhar, Dr Kevin and Phyllis Braun, Cathy Masi, and Ms Barber found an array of creative entries. Judges Judy Short and Maria Konitshek headed out in another vehicle that could handle roads the bus found inaccessible.

“One house on Kay Lane had actors dressed as Dr Seuss’s Grinch characters in front of their homemade Whoville display,” said Ms Barber, adding that it was “unexpected to see live characters.”

Another entry that nearly fooled the judges into believing that real people were taking part was at 9 Serenity Lane, where not only were lights set to music, but a projection on a picture window of Santa delivering gifts, filling stockings, and drinking a glass of milk and then waving mesmerized judges. That address received the Best Window Award.

The Most Pumped Up Award went to 26 Greenbriar Lane for its use of inflatables. 8 Baldwin Road won Merry and Bright for its use of colored lights, 1 Bennett’s Bridge Road won for Best Theme, and 9 Founders Lane was Awe-Inspiring, among other winners this year.

“One of the most wonderful things about the contest was for people like David Rosato, who lives on Route 34, and who does such an outstanding job on his home every year, now knows how much people appreciate his work. Everyone on Facebook now knows who lives in this Winter Wonderland, and so many families with young children have written to him to let him know how much their youngsters enjoy passing it,” Ms Barber said.

Sponsors Julie Allen Bridals, Cathy Masi of Flagpole Realty, Dr Richard Auerbach, Dr Joshua Baum, Dr Kevin Braun, Representative Mitch Bolinsky, attorney Anne Ragusa, Nancy White, Simply Pause Photography, Kyle Lyddy, and Urbanski Wealth Management provided funding for the purchase of 25 burgundy-colored metal barn stars and stakes. Winning entries and supporting businesses are marked with a star on the property, which will be collected in January for reuse next year. Funding by sponsors also allowed for a tip for the bus driver, who volunteered his service.

“Each winner will get a small burgundy wooden star ornament with the year 2016 written on it in silver, for a keepsake,” Ms Barber said. The ornaments were created and donated by Sandy Hook resident Katelyn Vayan.

While the 2016 contest was put together on short notice, beginning in November, Ms Barber feels it was a huge success. The real reward from the friendly competition, she hopes, comes from bringing back some magic to December in Newtown.

You can vote for the People’s Choice until this Friday, and view other entries, at

A map detailing participating homes is found at

Most homes will have the displays up through January 1, according to Ms Barber.

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