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12 kids to judge LI Builders Expo playhouse competition

Twelve Long Island children will have the chance to judge the playhouse competition at this year’s Long Island Builders Institute Home, Trade & Remodeling Expo.

Joined by NHL Hall of Famer Clark Gillies, celebrity contractor Stephen Fanuka and designer Tyler Wisler, the kids will judge four playhouses — built by local construction and home improvement companies — that will be donated after the March 15 competition. The competition starts at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Long Island Huntington.

Jay Ratto, of J. Ratto Landscaping in Calverton, said that he’s labored over his playhouse for the past month. Ratto says the playhouse, about 10-feet-tall and handicap accessible, will be “Ghostbusters”-themed and will come with toy “proton packs,” ghost decals and brick veneer to replicate the firehouse headquarters in the film.

“I think the kids will be able to really have a good time playing around in it,” he said.

Ratto said the playhouse, which he built with help from Hauppauge-based All-Ways Elevator, is worth about $8,000 and will be donated to the Brookville Center for Children’s Services.

Alure Home Improvements, based in East Meadow, will give the playhouse they’ve built to the Clark Gillies Foundation. Engel Burman Group out of Garden City will raffle off their playhouse at the Expo and give the proceeds to the charitable arm of the Long Island Builders Institute.

Instead of a traditional playhouse, TRITEC Real Estate Co., in East Setauket, will be donating a rocket ship monument that will be installed at Rocket Ship Park in Port Jefferson.

With the celebrity judges, the kids — whose parents are either members of the Long Island Builders Institute or local elected officials — will pick a first-place winner and the audience will be able to vote on a crowd favorite. Awards will also be given to the most kid-friendly, creative, safest and aesthetically pleasing designs.

The winners will receive custom-made plaques.

After the competition, Gillies will be available to take pictures and sign autographs and Fanuka and Wisler will answer home improvement questions.

In its 26th year, the Expo will feature nearly 100 exhibits, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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