NEWINGTON - Scarecrows: Come one, come all.
Newington Parks and Recreation is inviting creatures of the hay variety to decorate the town campus this October, in its first ever Scarecrow Contest.
Entries will be displayed outside the Mortensen Community Center on Garfield Street. Businesses and civic organizations will compete for a top prize of a free business card advertisement in the department’s Winter Brochure. This is valued at over $250 and the brochure is distributed to 13,000 households.
Families and friends will compete in a separate category. First and second prizes will be $100 and $50 gift certificates for department programming.
“We’re anticipating it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill DeMaio said this week.
Interested creators must pre-register with the department by Oct. 6 and installation day will be Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Contenders will gather in the Mortensen Community Center gymnasium to collect their assigned numbers that morning, then head outside to erect their creation in a 6-by-6-foot’ designated plot.
Coffee and doughnuts will be provided. Entrants are asked to make a $5 donation to the 2018 Life. Be in it. Extravaganza Fireworks Show.
Unlike other towns with similar competitions, Newington’s is all about community involvement.
Old Wethersfield’s Scarecrows on Main Street, for example, are judged on specific criteria by a selected panel. Newington Parks and Recreation will set up a poll on its Facebook page for anyone and everyone to vote for their favorite scarecrow.
“We’re trying to get people to go on Facebook and look at our page,” Recreation Program Specialist Joe Harvey explained, adding, “If somebody isn’t able to get to a computer and wants to come in or call our office and vote, we won’t turn anybody away.”
Students who participate in the department’s Exercise the Right Choice program will be working on four scarecrows to represent each elementary school in town.
Staff would like businesses and community groups to be as enthusiastic about the opportunity as they are.
“We’re hoping they can encourage their workers or members to get involved and take pride in Newington,” DeMaio said. “Every time I do something I want to gain a few more bites of the apple,” he added. “This contest certainly does that. It gets people excited about Newington again, it gets them working and competing and it’s a chance for the Chamber of Commerce to promote their members.”
There are up to 50 spots open in each category. Scarecrows must be durable and able to stand up to unpredictable weather, since they will remain outside from Oct. 14 through Nov. 1. Any fresh produce used as props (such as pumpkins) must be whole - not punctured or carved - to prevent rotting during the duration of the contest.
Although each scarecrow will be assigned a number, creators are also encouraged to name them.
“Give them some personality,” DeMaio pointed out.
For more information, call the Newington Parks and Recreation Department at 860-665-8666 or visit www.newingtonct.gov/parksand rec.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.