Matawan Recreation Department holds contest to honor veterans, first responders

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MATAWAN – What started as an idea to find a safe, creative way residents could honor veterans during a time of social distancing has become the Matawan Recreation Department’s “Paint the Borough Red, White and Blue” contest.

The weekly contest will run through July 4. Residents are invited to decorate their home in appreciation of the nation’s military veterans and first responders. The contest will be judged by representatives of the Matawan Historical Society and the Matawan Recreation Department.

Borough Councilwoman Stephanie Buckel said the weekly winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card.

“We are running this contest through July 4 and decided on red, white and blue in recognition of Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day,” she said.

Buckel said Matawan has held a Memorial Day parade and ceremony for more than 60 years, but organizers knew this year’s parade and ceremony would be lost to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

“In an effort to preserve the tradition of honoring our veterans, we thought it would be a good idea to encourage our community to show their patriotic support through their creativity and safety of their homes.

“We created the ‘Paint the Borough Red, White and Blue’ contest so our community members could still celebrate and honor our veterans and first responders by decorating their homes in red, white and blue,” she said.

Each judge receives a list of registered homes on Friday and visits the homes that have been decorated, the councilwoman said.

“We take photos and notes of what we liked and what we thought were special touches. On the following Monday, we discuss our comments and vote for our winner,” she said.

“Our first winners, Shelly and Mike Minutillo, had special touches that we as a committee appreciated, especially the details to the overall aesthetic, in particular the red, white and blue flowers, patriotic embroidered pillows on the rocking chairs and bunting on the porch,” Buckel said.

Another winner, the Nusbaum family, wrapped red, white and blue lights around their front landscaping and the nighttime effect was extremely creative, she said, adding that the family donated its gift card to the Matawan food pantry.

To register a house for Matawan’s “Paint the Borough Red, White and Blue” contest, residents may send an email to recreation@matawanborough.com