The holiday season has the power to unite Bridgewater residents more than at any other time of year. A high density of holiday decorations in a town can demonstrate the strength of its community. Decorating your house for the holidays is a great expression of neighborliness. Some of the best neighborhoods literally glow more brightly.
Searching for ways to strengthen the local community, last year the Friends of Bridgewater History (FOBH) took a cue from the Manville's Arts Council and launched the "Merry and of Bright Bridgewater" Holiday Lights Contest. Manville has successfully run a similar event for several years now.
The FOBH is a small, nonprofit corporation that was founded in 2016 with the goal of preserving and promoting the history and cultural heritage of Bridgewater Township.
“Friends hopes to lift up the important role that the Township had in the developing history of the Township and, where possible, advocate for the preservation of properties that are key to that history,” says FOBH committee member and Bridgewater Township councilwoman Christine Henderson-Rose. The FOBH's goal is to raise $2500 from this event to help support this initiative.
Last year, 16 houses participated in the competition. Maps were provided online, and residents enjoyed driving around visiting all of the displays before returning home to cast their virtual votes.
This year, the FOBH is hoping to double the number of homes participating in the event. In conjunction with the Heritage Trail Association, a Hot Cocoa Kick-Off Party will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2-4 p.m. at the Van Horne House. Voting will be done through social media and runs Dec. 8 through New Year's Eve.
Prizes such as beauty products, restaurant gift cards and free month-long fitness memberships are being donated by local businesses and will be awarded to the top three homes. This competition is open to all homes in Bridgewater Township. The more the merrier!
“The benefits of getting involved are two-fold," FOBH committee member, Stephanie Moench, says, "One, you will support the FOBH and the hard work it does advocating for the Township’s preservation. Two, it’s fun!”
Stephanie urges community members to participate in this growing, family-friendly tradition.
“Grab the minivan, a family or two, some hot cocoa and drive around town admiring the hard work and pride people put into decorating their homes for the holiday season,” Stephanie says.
A participant in last year’s contest, Martinsville resident Erica Taylor can’t wait for the voting period to start again.
“It was great fun," Erica says. "The whole family got involved. We've always loved decorating our house for the holidays, but what we loved even more last year was all the visitors who drove by because of the contest. Some even stopped to say hello! It made us feel more connected to our community.”
Township residents who decorate their homes in the spirit of the holiday season are encouraged to enter the contest by registering at FriendsOfBridgewater.org by Saturday, Nov. 30. The cost to register a home is $20.
"It made us feel more connected to our community.” —Erica Taylor