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December 9, 2013

Christmas in the Park: Judges survey lights; Troop 200 comes out on top

TERRE HAUTE — The rockin’ snowmen were singing “I can’t get no satisfaction,” but they won first place anyway.

Boy Scout Troop 200 captured top honors once again in the 2013 Christmas in the Park shelter decorating contest at Deming Park with its display: “The Rolling Snows.”

Vigo County superior court judges, Chris Newton, Mike Lewis and David Bolk carefully inspected each of the 19 shelters at the park on a frigid night, along with not-for-profit group volunteers who also braved the cold. After visiting each shelter, the judges deliberated in the Torner Center while eager contestants awaited the results.

About two dozen scouts in Troop 200 worked over three weekends developing their shelter design and making it work, said Angus Brechbill, senior patrol leader. On any given weekend day, up to 15 scouts were working on the project, added Yonah Wasik, assistant senior patrol leader.

Second place went to the Toyland Express shelter, designed by the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

“We’re going to smoke the Boy Scouts” in 2014, said a determined Ariana Opuszenski after the awards were presented. She and fellow Girl Scout Makaylah Kersey were already thinking of plans for next year, they said.

What will the Boy Scouts do next year?

“We’ll probably think of something at the last minute, again,” said Brechbill and Wasik laughing.

Third place went to the Wabash Valley Master Gardeners with their display, International Reindeer Airport, which depicts Santa and his nine reindeer setting out to deliver gifts.

“We wanted to do something kids would really enjoy,” said Peggy Harlan of the Master Gardeners.

The Vigo County Animal Coalition, a first-time competitor, scored a strong fourth place with its shelter, “Christmas at the Woofs,” a shelter depicting what Christmas might be like for a family of animals.

“There’s always a cat in the tree,” said Dawn Lorey of the coalition, explaining part of the display. “We put a lot of thought into it.”

Fifth place went to the disco-dancing Santa Claus light show constructed by Sarah Scott Middle School. Sixth went to Keep the Christ in Christmas, an expanded nativity display from the Knights of Columbus. The People’s Choice Award went to the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

All other displays received honorable mention awards, including some whose volunteers may have deserved a little extra credit for braving cold conditions to meet with the judges.

“We’re cold,” conceded Jim Pinkstaff, who was dressed in a Batman costume at the Christmas with your Super Friends shelter decorated by Ryves Hall Youth Center. Pinkstaff is education coordinator at the center “when I’m not fighting crime,” he told the judges. He was joined by an equally chilly Superman, depicted by Curtis McGuire. Temperatures were in the mid 20s for most of the evening.

This was the first year the contest has featured actual judges, said Sally Whitehurst of First Financial Bank, one of the event sponsors along with Pepsi, the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Parks Department and the Tribune-Star.

None of the competitors threatened to appeal the judges’ rulings.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or

Award winners

Results of the 2013 Christmas in the Park shelter decorating contest

1. Boy Scout Troop 200

2. Girl Scouts of Central Indiana

3. Wabash Valley Master Gardeners

4. Vigo County Animal Coalition

5. Sarah Scott Middle School

6. Knights of Columbus

People’s Choice

Girl Scouts of Central Indiana

Honorable Mention

Delta Gamma Sorority

Terre Haute North Vigo High School

West Vigo High School

Friends of the Arboretum

River City Art Association

Terre Haute Fire Department

Ryves Hall Youth Center

St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen

Wabash Valley Habitat for Humanity

4-H Junior Leaders

Delta Theta Tau

181st Intelligence Wing

Terre Haute South Vigo High School ROTC

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