WEST PITTSTON — Christmas has been over for weeks, but its spirit still lives as West Pittston Tomorrow announces the winners of the annual House Decorating Contest.
The two categories judged were Traditional and Whimsical, and the first-place winners were the Sapeigo family, of Susquehanna Avenue, for Traditional and Ann Becker, of Washington Street, for Whimsical.
Second-place winners were the Pugliese family, of Delaware Avenue, for Traditional and the Smith family, of Exeter Avenue, for Whimsical.
The winners were all given gift certificates to Agolino’s Restaurant or Ballyhoo Ice Cream.
According to West Pittston Tomorrow members Ellen Quinn, Judy Stevenson and Lynn Burbank, the qualifications for the Traditional category are houses with simple lights, wreaths, trees and a peaceful look.
They noted that Whimsical qualifications include multicolored lights and a fun look.
This marked the third year for the annual contest.
“West Pittston Tomorrow just thought to get the community involved,” Quinn said of beginning the contest a few years ago. “Our goal has always been, since West Pittston Tomorrow began, to get the community involved in advocating for flood protection, flood mitigation and flood recovery. We just thought this would be an opportunity for the townspeople to get on board.”
The three West Pittston Tomorrow members also noted this year’s winners cannot repeat as winners next year, leaving a a two-year gap until they can win again.
Becker, who lives on the corner of Washington Street and York Avenue, said she and her daughter decorated their houe.
They outlined the doors, windows, porches and trees with lights.
“We make everything look like a gingerbread house,” Becker said.
Becker noted she designed her house specifically for the house-decorating contest, as she was unable to do a lot of decorating these last few years.
“The last few years I wasn’t able to do as much,” she said. Either my daughter couldn’t help, or I couldn’t get to it. But, this year we went all out. I would’ve liked to have put more out, but then it got too cold.”
Becker said she was shocked when Quinn told her she won first place for the Whimsical category and, even though she can’t win again next year, she’s already planning on her decorations.
“I already told them my plans for next year,” she said. “We’re going to do more in the yard next year.”
Her prize was a gift certificate to Agolino’s Restaurant.
Unlike Becker, Sharon Sapeigo was unaware of the house-decorating contest.
“I didn’t know about this at all and didn’t even know there were different categories of this,” she said. “We didn’t decorate the house for the contest.”
Sapiego’s house, on Susquehanna Avenue, featured flags hanging in two windows as well as pines and ribbons weaved into garland. She also has a door fan and lights on the side of her door.
“I do most of the decorating,” she said. “It’s such a relaxing feeling for me; it’s just so pleasurable. I’ve been doing it for a long, long time.”
Sapiego received a gift certificate to Ballyhoo Ice Cream.
When it comes to decorating her house, Sapiego said there’s nothing special to it and she does it the same way every year.
“I do it the same way every year, and my pictures that I have are from the same thing, except I didn’t get to weave the ribbons into it like I did this year,” she said. “It’s really all the same.”
Biggest difference is this year, her decorating won an award.
Judging the homes
All decorated homes in the borough are judged by West Pittston Tomorrow members, but the voting comes down to the 11 board members, which also includes Stevenson and Burbank.
“I found streets I never knew existed,” said Burbank. “I looked at, I want to say, at least 100 homes.”
The board members make sure to know the houses before judging, and Stevenson said most members have been lifelong borough residents.
“People that are on the board and voting, most of them have lived in West Pittston for a number of years,” she said. “So, if you say Philadelphia Avenue, the Pugliese family, or the Sapiegos — we all know each other.”
Contest has history
While the contest has become an annual thing, it actually began decades ago.
The first contest was held in 1954 and sponsored by the West Pittston Police Pension Fund Association.
There were three categories: Nativity, Christmas scenes and light display.
Winners of each category that year were the Oblates of St. Joseph, of Susquehanna Avenue, for Nativity; Dr. Joseph Miller, of Susquehanna Avenue, and Mrs. Charles Barone, of Montgomery Avenue, for Christmas scenes; and James Walker, of Franklin Street, for light display.
West Pittston Tomorrow will look to expand the contest to include Best Decorated Door and Best Decorated Business.
As participation continues to grow, Quinn says it’s because of the enthusiasm of the residents.
“We want to thank everyone in West Pittston for participating, and to keep trying,” she said.