The Christmas tree stands upside down at Toniann and Jim Bartscherer's Northport home. There are birds' nests and icicles and woodland creatures. The requisite penguin and polar bear are also present.
"It is just wilderness," says Toniann, a graphic artist who has been decorating this way for nearly a decade. "There's no, like, Christmas-Christmas ornaments."
The unorthodox display has earned the Bartscherers recognition in the Town of Huntington holiday decorating contest for the past two years. A passion project for Toniann, the decorating starts in November and takes about a week. Her husband, Jim, does not quite share her passion, she says, but he helps "a great deal."
"It's definitely a work of love, because it's a lot off work to put it all together," she says.
Entries in this year's contest can include both indoor and outdoor decorations and displays, says Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. Entrants can submit photos of their residences online by Dec. 10. From Dec. 13 to 16, a judging panel that includes Lupinacci and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson will visit the finalists' homes.
The first-place winner receives a $1,000-valued VIP package at The Paramount for a Jan. 13 show. The package includes 10 tickets, a VIP box and access to the Founder's Room. The winner also earns an overnight stay at Oheka Castle and a one-year subscription to Long Islander News, which sponsors the contest.
Second and third-place winners receive prizes, as well. Each includes a subscription to the newspaper and a stay at Oheka Castle.