By Ann Marie Barron
The word of the day was creativity Sunday as children and adults put their sweetest architectural ideas to the test in a Gingerbread House contest in Washington Township.
“The entries we received were really good,’’ said Angela Farley, co-chair of the contest, which was sponsored by the Long Valley Junior Women’s Club. “They were wonderful. Everyone was really impressed with them.’’ Aimee Stabbert co-chaired the event with Farley.
Participants showed up at Cottage Treasures on Schooley’s Mountain Road early Saturday morning and left behind their entries. Later that day, volunteers from the Junior Women’s Club evaluated and scored their creations.
“I think it’s a wonderful way for families to get together and do something enjoyable with each other,’’ Farley said. “I can’t think of a better way to have fun than to use a ton of candy, gather around a big table and come up with imaginative ideas together.’’
The entries weren’t limited to houses, Farley said.
“The majority were houses, but there were also a few that were other shapes, other designs,’’ she said. “They were all very impressive.’’
The contest, in its 12th year, was part of Long Valley’s annual Holiday Happenings event, which takes place the first Sunday each December in the afternoon. During the event, local businesses kept their doors open a bit later, and many provided treats and cookies for children. Arts and craft activities were also held for children and Santa made an appearance, getting a ride through town on a fire engine.
At the conclusion of the event, the towering pine tree in front of Zion Lutheran Church, at the base of Schooley’s Mountain, was lit, officially ushering in the Christmas season in the town.
The adult/family category winner was Yuki Watts, whose house had a Victorian theme. For her efforts, Watts received a beautiful basket from Ort Farms in Long Valley, as well as a gift certificate for a family meal at the Valley Restaurant on Mill Road in Long Valley.
For the first time, the event included a People’s Choice category, the winner of which was selected those attending the event. The winner of that category was Shannon Rice, who won four vouchers for free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery in Mansfield Township. Rice’s entry wasn’t a house at all. Instead she chose to create a gingerbread bear, Farley said.
The winner of the children’s category was a group from third-grade Brownie Girl Scout Troop 96083 from Old Farmers Road School, led by Vitina Krentz. The theme of their entry was Girl Scout Village. The scouts received five gift cards to the Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe in Chester.
“They can get quite a few cupcakes with that,’’ Farley said.
Long Valley Junior Women’s Club is 60 members strong, and strives to enrich the lives of others thought volunteer service, Farley said. The gingerbread contest fits right in with their mission, she said.
“I just think it’s a wonderful family event and Juniors is all about family and getting people together,’’ she said. “It’s something Juniors wants to promote and keep going every year.’’