Holiday contest helps raise awareness about nature and the environment

Photo Courtesy of Glen Frieson
West Orange’s Leonardo McCormick, front, won first place in the Individual Child Category in the Essex County Environmental Center’s 14th annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest. With him are, from left, father Jason McCormick, Essex County Parks Director Dan Salvante, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., Freeholder Patricia Sebold and mother Calodera McCormick.

ROSELAND, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. presented awards to the children and families who participated in the Essex County Environmental Center’s 14th annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest on Monday, Dec. 17. There were 35 entries in this year’s contest.

“Our Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest is a wonderful project that incorporates our mission to raise awareness about nature with a holiday theme. This hands-on, family-oriented contest lets people of all ages learn about the environment in a fun way,” DiVincenzo said. “I am amazed at the creativeness and ingenuity of the entries each winter. Everyone who participated in this contest was a winner.”

Award winners are:

  • In the Group/Family category: first place to JJ and Brody Rella, and Brandon and Ryan Sivori from Roseland; second place to Ella, Ashlyn, Avery, Hayden and Patrick McAdams from Montclair; and third place to Eva, Ella and Kyla from Girl Scout Troop 96185 from East Hanover.
  • In the Individual Child category: first place to Leonardo McCormick from West Orange; second place to Laura Stairiker from Caldwell; and third place to Nicoletta Guerrieri from West Caldwell.
  • In the Non-Professional Adult category: first place to Essex County Donald M. Payne School of Technology culinary arts students Lizbeth Marte and Biatriz Diaz and their teacher Eddie Encarnacion; second place to Mary Pierson Farlie from North Caldwell; and third place to Essex County West Caldwell Campus culinary arts students Angelina Lewis, Taina Lopez, Amiyah Portorreal, Waldina Villeda and Vanessa Williams, assistants Tiffany Coats, Olufunmilayo Oyefeso, Diane Richard, Laisha Rojas and James Davey, and their teacher Victoria Atfield.
  • In the Adult Professional category: first place to Sunrise Bakery at the West Caldwell ShopRite and second place to Gilbert Antero from Belleville.

Entries were judged on distinctiveness, creative use of a nature theme, use of “green” building design techniques and skill in decoration. Members of the Essex County Environmental Commission served as judges for this year’s competition. The gingerbread homes were on display at the Essex County Environmental Center during the first two weeks of December.