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A view of a Gingerbread House from previous year.
A previous Gingerbread House contestant.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. 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, December 17th. 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,” he noted.

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. A list of the award winners is as follows:

Group/Family Category: First Place: JJ and Brody Rella and Brandon and Ryan Sivori from Roseland. Second Place: Ella, Ashlyn, Avery, Hayden and Patrick McAdams from Montclair. Third Place: Eva, Ella and Kyla from Girl Scout Troop 96185 from East Hanover.

Individual Child Category: First Place: Leonardo McCormick from West Orange. Second Place: Laura Stairiker from Caldwell. Third Place: Nicoletta Guerrieri from West Caldwell.

Non-Professional Adult Category: First Place: Essex County Donald M. Payne School of Technology culinary arts students Lizbeth Marte and Biatriz Diaz and their teacher Eddie Encarnacion. Second Place: Mary Pierson Farlie from North Caldwell. Third Place: 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.

Adult Professional Category: First Place: Sunrise Bakery at the West Caldwell ShopRite. Second Place: 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.

Sponsors of this year’s contest were Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Metropolitan Plant Exchange in West Orange, Caldwell Nursery in West Caldwell, Fairchild’s Market in Roseland, Green Point Juicery in Verona, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, ShopRite in West Caldwell, Citiplex 12 Movie Theaters, Earth, Wind & Flowers in East Hanover, McLoone’s Boathouse Restaurant in West Orange, Starbucks in Roseland and RDWorks Woodturning in Budd Lake.

Classes and programs with nature themes are offered at the Essex County Environmental Center. Registration is required for all programs at the Essex County Environmental Center. For more information or to register, please call 973-228-8776. The Center is located at 621B Eagle Rock Avenue in Roseland.

The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 23 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, four off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. The Environmental Center is located within Essex County West Essex Park, which is 1,360 acres of wetlands preserves.


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