Holiday contest helps raise awareness about nature and the environment

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ROSELAND, NJ — Residents throughout the county brought stunning entries to the Essex County Environmental Center’s Annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest, which was held Saturday, Dec. 21. All told, 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,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said. “I am amazed at the creativeness and ingenuity of the entries each winter. Everyone who participated in this contest was a winner.”

The public was invited to participate in four categories: Individual Child Category for children ages 14 or younger who worked independently on all aspects of their entry; Group/Family Category for children 14 and younger who worked as a group or had adult assistance on any aspect of their entry; Adult Non-Professional Category for individuals or groups of people ages 15 and older who are students of the culinary arts or are not professional chefs; and Adult Professional Category for individuals or groups of people ages 15 and older who are professional chefs or are working in the culinary arts. 

Winners in the Group/Family Category were JJ and Brody Rella, and Brandon and Ryan Sivori, from Roseland, in first place; Joel, Jennie and Lee Goldberg, from West Orange, in second place; and the Lynn family, from West Orange, in third place.

Winners in the Individual Child Category were Laura Stairiker, from Caldwell, in first place; Andrew Katz, from East Hanover, in second place; and Anna Katz, from East Hanover, in third place.

Winners in the Non-Professional Adult Category were Essex County West Caldwell School of Technology culinary arts students Elias Jouaq, Johnathan Thomas, Andres Garcia and Claudio Panduro, and teacher Victoria Atfield in first place; Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology culinary arts students Anjali Maragh, Nia Campbell and Ashley Zumba, and teacher Amarilys Olivo Mockabee, in second place; and Susan Tran, from North Caldwell, in third place. 

The sole winner in the Adult Professional Category was Sunrise Bakery at the West Caldwell ShopRite.

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. 

Photos Courtesy of Glen Frieson

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