Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Tour 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christ-maaaaaas....

A year ago, on this blog, I treated you all to a Holiday Tour of Highland Park, featuring photos of our town's most notable holiday decorations. To make it more interesting, I gave out awards in several different categories, from Winter Wonderland to Most Over-the-Top. This year, I've decided to take the idea a step further: instead of giving the awards myself, I'm just going to post several candidates in each category and let you, my friends and readers, pick the winners. I'm hoping, in the process, to learn how to embed a poll in a blog entry, something I've never attempted here before. (If that doesn't work, you can always cast your ballots in the comments.)

So here, without further ado, are the nominees for the first category: the Winter Wonderland award, for the best decorations overall. Candidate number one is last year's winner, Roberts Florals on Raritan Avenue, which put up a more streamlined variant of its glittering window display from 2012. I couldn't get it all into one picture, so here are two shots, one of each half of the window.



Candidate number two is one of last year's runners-up, Through the Moongate/Over the Moon Toys. This one also gets two pictures, one of its outdoor decorations (fruit-adorned wreaths on the windows and light-bedecked evergreens flanking the door)...



...and one of its interior, complete with paper snowflakes, glowing star lanterns, and a fully decked out Christmas tree.


Candidate number three is another runner-up from last year, our local Ten Thousand Villages. Its window display includes LED light branches (I love those things), abstract snowflakes, and a wide assortment of handmade Christmas decorations and menorahs, shown in the close-up shots below.



Candidate number four is a newcomer to the list: Haven barbershop, which has put together an elegant display of snow-covered branches. Apologies for the reflection in the window: this would probably look better by night, but when we passed by it on an evening walk the display was still under construction.


And finally, candidate number five is the headquarters of Main Street Highland Park, a local community development organization. Its window currently features works by local artists, interspersed with lighted snowflakes and star lanterns.


And although it's not part of the display, here's a shot of the town Christmas tree just outside the building, just for the sake of community spirit.


So, assuming I've managed to do this right, you should be able to cast your votes in the Winter Wonderland category below.

Winter Wonderland award


Moving along, our second category is Most Creative Display. The first nominee in this category is the unusual menorah in the window of Pino's Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar—made from, naturally, an assortment of wine bottles painted blue and adorned with candles.


The second candidate is another part of Pino's window display: these little liquor-bottle elves.


Candidate number three is the burlap-covered wreath in the window of OQ Coffee, our new "artisanal" coffee shop and roastery. With its all-organic and Fair Trade coffee selections, naturally they chose an organic material for the window display as well. Once again I had a problem with reflections off the window, but I hope the two pictures below give you some idea of it.



Candidate number four is this little collection of carolers in the window of The Hair Company on Raritan Avenue.


And on a related theme, candidate number five is the paper snowman and snowflakes in the window of Music Together, a musical academy for kids. You might not think this is particularly creative until you look closely at the snowflakes...


...and see that they're made of sheet music.


Most Creative Display:

Category number three is Most Tasteful Display. Our classy town had lots of candidates for this award, starting with these cement planters that line Raritan Avenue. In the summer they're full of flowers, but at Christmastime they're decked out with evergreens, white birch branches, and red bows.


On a similar theme, we have this handsome pair of evergreen wreaths on the door of the Baptist Church.


The door of Pino's also has a pair of wreaths, but of the grapevine variety, trimmed with red ribbon.



Another natural display appears in the window box outside Rebarber Family Chiropractic: just some sleek white birch branches with a few sprigs of juniper.


And lastly, moving from the natural to the handcrafted, we have these lovely fabric-covered baubles in the window of Highland Spark jewelry studio.

Most Tasteful Display:

And finally, the ever-popular category of Most Over-the-Top Display. It was actually harder to find suitable candidates for this category, especially since the inflatable menagerie down the street, the undisputed winner of this award in last year's Holiday Tour, hasn't been put up this year. So instead we have an assortment of displays that are perhaps just a bit much, starting with this one in and immediately outside the window of Highland Flower.


The next candidate is the Jewelry Exchange, a local secondhand jeweler. The amazing thing about this one is that the proprietor is Jewish and doesn't even celebrate Christmas. You can, if you look closely, see two plastic menorahs pinned up over the doorway behind all the icicle lights and tinsel stars of David, but most of this stuff actually stays up year-round.


Then we have a set of icicle lights in the window of a Chinese restaurant on Raritan (I can't give you its name because its window displays at least three different ones, and I don't know which one is right). Actually, the icicle lights might not look so glaring if they didn't have the neon "OPEN" sign right in amongst them.


Candidate number four is a Nativity scene in the window of Pure Light Crafts. I wouldn't have questioned its taste level at all were it not for the fact that the principal figure, the Baby Jesus himself, appears to have fallen victim to cradle snatchers.


And finally, just to make sure there's at least one inflatable character in the running, our neighbor's house. (I probably could have found more of these around town if I had really searched, but I only checked out the main drag, and this was the only one that happened to be on the way from my house to Raritan.)

Most Over-the-Top Display



So there you have it: four categories, with five picks in each. Now, I think I've managed to incorporate all the poll questions into this post properly, but I was only able to do it by putting the same poll questions on the main page of the blog and then copying and pasting the HTML code into this post. According to this site, I should now be able to delete the poll widget from the main page without affecting the code here—but the instructions in that site didn't work exactly right for the copying-and-pasting part, so I'm skeptical. Let's see....

Well, it seems to work. The only thing that's weird is these little dotted lines at the bottom of the post, but I think I'm just not going to worry about those, because trying to get rid of them is likely to create more problems. Ignore the dotted lines, everyone. Just have fun with the poll.

P.S. After a little experimentation, it appears that votes take a while to show up after being cast. If you don't see yours, try refreshing the page; it will probably pop up.
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