ROSELAND, NJ — Out of 37 entries in the 12th Annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest in December, Aleah Colon-Alfonso of Caldwell; Patricia and Dylan Saraciniello of Fairfield; ShopRite of West Caldwell; the Gaudiosi Family of Roseland; and a group of Essex County West Caldwell Campus culinary arts students placed in the top three of their individual categories.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., presented the winners with their awards at the annual event, which helps raise awareness about nature and the environment.

In the “Non-Professional Adult” category, Colon-Alfonso placed first; the Saraciniellos placed second; and culinary arts students Dominique Thomas, Krystal Guevara, Ingrid Cruz, Azaria Agosto and Crystal Gonzalez and their teacher Victoria Atfield placed third.

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The Gaudiosi Family of Roseland placed third in the “Group/Family” category and ShopRite of West Caldwell placed third in the “Adult Professional” category.

“Our Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest is a wonderful project that incorporates our mission to raise awareness about nature with a holiday theme,” said DiVincenzo. “This hands-on, family-oriented contest lets people of all ages learn about the environment in a fun way. I am amazed at the creativeness and ingenuity of the entries each winter. Everyone who participated in this contest was a winner.”

Hosted by the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland, the public was invited to participate in four categories: Individual Child Category for children ages 14 or younger who worked independently on all aspects of their entry; Group/Family Category for children 14 and younger who worked as a group or had adult assistance on any aspect of their entry; Adult Non-Professional Category for individuals or groups of people ages 15 and older who are students of the culinary arts or are not professional chefs; and Adult Professional Category for individuals or groups of people ages 15 and older who are professional chefs or are working in the culinary arts.

The participants were judged on their distinctiveness, creative use of a nature theme, use of “green” building design techniques and skill in decoration.

The gingerbread homes were on display at the Essex County Environmental Center during the month of December.

Sponsors of this year’s contest included:

  • McLoone’s Boathouse Restaurant in West Orange;
  • Fairchild’s Market in Roseland; Aramark in West Orange;
  • REI in East Hanover;
  • Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn;
  • ShopRite in West Caldwell;
  • Trader Joe’s in Millburn;
  • Kitchen a la Mode in South Orange;
  • Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown;
  • Manhattan Bagel in Roseland;
  • Starbucks in Roseland;
  • Essex County Codey Arena in West Orange;
  • Green Point Juicery in Verona; and
  • Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange.