MORRISTOWN, NJ - Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has announced the winners of the Fourth Annual "Merry & Bright" Holiday Lights Photo Contest, a competition conducted on the JCP&L Facebook page.
The utility company has announced that, for the third year, Berkeley Township, resident Tom Makowski is the grand prize winner. Makowski spent weeks creating an elaborate, animated light display for locals to visit and enjoy. His extensive display received more than 1,240 votes out of more than 4,500 total votes cast on Facebook. He will receive a $250 gift card.
When Makowski began decorating his home for the holidays four years ago, he started with 17,000 lights and five lawn figures. Each year, his daughter challenged him to double the display, and in 2016 he included more than 100 lawn figures and 140,000 lights synchronized to 13 songs. Other unique features included a 17-foot Christmas tree, a 6-foot dancing Santa and all nine reindeer on the roof, and the popular Elf on the Shelf, which moved to a different spot each day. On the lawn were six dancing trees, two of which were 20 feet tall and used 9,600 lights each. New this year was a “zoo” area with more than 30 light-up lawn animals. As part of their tradition, the Makowski family collects food for St. Barnabas Church and displays a red mailbox where children can send letters to Santa.
"We won’t be doubling the lights next year but instead will add some ‘secret’ features that the kids will love. Also, my 10-year-old daughter is working on programming the lights to the song Jingle Bells,” said Makowski.
First prize winner Brandon Gress of Union Beach, N.J., received 1,023 votes and will be awarded a $100 gift card.
“Each year, we’re impressed by our customers’ creativity and love for the holiday season,” said Mark Jones, vice president, External Affairs, JCP&L. “Thank you to everyone who entered the contest and voted for their favorite display on Facebook. Congratulations to the winners!”
Customers submitted photos of their homes’ outdoor lighting displays on the JCP&L Facebook page during the first several weeks of December. Ten finalists were selected from all entries, and visitors to JCP&L's Facebook page voted to select the winners.
“We would like to thank JCP&L for selecting our home as a finalist again this year and everyone who shared in our holiday spirit by voting for us," said Makowski.