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Teenage ‘Mr. Christmas’ wins house decorating contest in South Amboy

Ines Csulak (left), RIchard Marzec (right) and other musicians perform during the annual Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting held at the Holmdel Town Hall on December 3. The annual event included a performance by the Satz School Band, the holiday lighting, and a visit from Santa Claus.

By Jacqueline Durett


SOUTH AMBOY — It’s only fitting that someone nicknamed “Mr. Christmas” was part of the winning family during the city’s annual holiday house decorating contest.

The contest, which the city has been holding since 2011, is part of South Amboy’s annual holiday festivities. Residents enter their homes into the contest, and when the city holds its holiday trolley tour, trolley riders receive a ballot with those houses on it and vote for their favorite.

Ann Armstrong Scapolatempore said she received an email from the city a few weeks ago notifying her that her house, 393 Division St., had won.

“We’ve entered it every time,” she said.

However, when they didn’t win the first couple of years, they focused more on just enjoying the experience.

Scapolatempore said the house didn’t have a theme, per se, but used a multitude of colored lights—on the lawn, on reindeer, on the house, on trees and on Santa.

However, she stressed that the man behind the holiday curtain is none other than her 17-year-old son, Adam Scapolatempore, who is so committed to holiday decorating that he’s been nicknamed “Mr. Christmas” at school, where he also does theater set design.

“I think over the years he gets more of a thrill of doing it and seeing people’s faces seeing it,” she said of Adam’s passion for holiday decorating.

“We’re not the Griswolds by any means,” she added, referring to the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” movie in which a character played by actor Chevy Chase named Clark Griswold goes all out to decorate the family home.

She said that Adam tries to get on the first trolley on the night the annual holiday trolley runs through the city to scope out the competition.

Scapolatempore said that Adam has already earmarked the $100 prize for buying even more decorations for this year—her son has no problem dreaming big. In fact, she said her son has even asked her about the family moving to a corner lot in the city to give him more decorating options. The winning family, she said, also receives a collage of professional photos taken of the display.

The proud mother said Adam starts planning his decorating in August and starts putting items up as soon as guests leave Thanksgiving dinner.

Although the city prohibits the same family from winning two years in a row, the family can still elect to be a stop on the holiday trolley tour.

“We’ll still be on the list,” Scapolatempore said. “It’s bragging rights.”


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