CLARK, NJ — Ralph Bernardo of Clark Recreation announced the 22 houses that entered this year’s annual house decorating contest. Three of the homes will be awarded “Most Outrageous,” “Most Traditional,” and “Overall Favorite.”
“I started the contest maybe five or six years ago just for fun,” Bernardo told LocalSource in an email. “Houses are judged in three categories. A little friendly competition is fun and gives residents a reason to drive around with their kids and look at the houses and submit their opinion as to who should win. I have memories of driving around looking at the decorated houses with my family, having hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music. They’re great memories.”
Residents are asked to drive by the houses listed in the email they received from Bernardo to pick their favorites. Unfortunately, in past years, some of the residents weren’t taking the contest very seriously, which required Bernardo to organize a selection committee.
“A few years ago some of the residents were filling out the ballots with bogus selections,” Bernardo told LocalSource. “This created the need for a selection committee. We ask that residents call or email us with their picks, and we will take their selections into consideration. We want them to drive around and have fun judging themselves. The final decisions will be made by the selection committee which consists of myself and four other members who wish to remain anonymous. The winners will each receive a giftcard to Town Hardware and a lawn sign for bragging rights from the committee.”
The areas of Clark are split into three sections for the contest. There is the Lake Avenue/Raritan Road area, the Valley Road/St. Johns Place area and Madison Hill Road/Westfield Avenue area.
“I think the holiday decorating contest brings the community together and brings the spirit of the holiday season into the community,” Councilman Bill Smith told LocalSource over the phone. “Bernardo asked for the community’s participation to go out and contact him as to who they recommended to be the winners. He definitely takes their opinion into consideration when the selection committee makes the final decision.”
LocalSource also contacted Councilman Frank Mazzarella and Mayor Sal Bonaccorso but did not receive a response prior to press time.
“I think this is a great event because it gets people into the neighborhood and gives the community a small town feel,” Vice President of the Township Council Angel Albanese told LocalSource over the phone. “It’s a good way for people to get to know their neighbors, and it also helps people get into the holiday spirit. It’s a lot of fun.”
Bernardo reports he’s seen some very interesting use of lights in previous years, and he also questioned where people have purchased various decorations.
“When we judge the houses, we look for creativity that’s tastefully done, all the way to the obnoxious,” said Bernardo. “It’s mostly just to have fun.”