Several Verona residents were the winners of a gingerbread house competition with an environmental twist.
Samantha, Patricia and Molli Dowd captured first place in the Group/Family category of the Essex County Environmental Center’s Fifth Annual Gingerbread Homes and Habitats Contest. Brendan Semeraro won second place in the Individual Children’s category.
The houses–there were 43 in this year’s contest–had to be baked from scratch and feature at least three identifiable sustainable building elements such as skylights, solar panels or rain barrels, and all houses made by adult bakers had to be entirely edible. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. presented awards to the winners on Saturday, December 19. In addition to the family and child categories, there were awards for amateur and professional adult builders. The Belleville restaurant Nanina’s In the Park won first place in the professional category, with the bakery from West Caldwell’s Sunrise ShopRite coming in second.
The gingerbread house competition was just one of the events at the Essex County Environmental Center, which has a wide range of nature programs aimed at children and adults, from hands-on nature and craft classes to hikes for photographers and birders. The December to February schedule is here and registration is required for all programs. For more information or to register, please call 973-228-8776. The Center is located at 621B Eagle Rock Avenue in Roseland.