Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrate the Holidays at Lakeside Campus

"Welcome to the Christmas Wars - a new reality TV show that pits co-worker against co-worker in a test of who can bring the most holiday decorations into work...." 

The Lakeside judges, from left, Claire Giroux-Williams,
 Rich Long, Lisa Mazzariello and Roland Palmer.
Oops, sorry that show is on BRAVO. This is a Champlain News report on the Miller Center at Lakeside's first ever Holiday Decorating Contest. And, oh, what a contest it was. We can't let the students have all the fun, now can we? Weeks in the making, the decorating started well before Black Friday, kicked into gear on Cyber Monday and folks never looked back. Not a creature was working, not even a Mease. 

The judges made their rounds, checking their lists, late Monday afternoon on Dec. 12 to determine just how much over the top people are willing to go when challenged and when they don't really know what the ultimate prize will be, but figure it might be something good. Or at least something good to eat.   

Each department picked their theme (Winter Wonderland, Santa's Workshop, Xmas tree lot, etc)  and level of extravaganza in order to impress the judges. Some departments struggled as a plethora of ideas were considered, including a live Nativity scene, (which never seemed to gain any traction). Others took an idea and ran with it – apparently ran to the Christmas Tree Loft multiple times. 

Clearly imbued with the holiday spirit (and some might say, too much time on their hands) was the over the top efforts in the Human Resources and Finance departments who brought in illuminated snowmen, dueling lighted arches, toys, train sets and even fashioned a "be a snowman" photo opp. Others tastefully decorated with flocked snow, twinkle lights, glittered flowers and colorful wreaths. Special touches included creating online digital dancing elves with the heads of coworkers, playing Frank Sinatra Christmas songs on their computers and risking serious injury from an electric train prone to falling off its elevated track if not properly controlled. 

While there was some concern by David Provost that the large number of strings of lights would overtake the ability of the rooftop solar panels to produce enough electricity, the fact that Marketing dimmed its overhead lights daily made all the difference in the final accounting of voltage use.  

There was also some concern that Ted "Legal Grinch" Winokur might step in and call a halt to hanging glass icicles and sharp snowflakes from the ceiling, not to mention the increased trip and fall potential posed by tiny Tonka trucks, snaking extension cords and endless model railroad tracks underfoot. But in the end, even Ted's heart grew three sizes on the day of judging as the laughter was heard rising up from the little cube villages of Lakeside.  

Judges Rich Long, Lisa Mazzariello, Roland Palmer and Claire Giroux-Williams, (experienced veterans of other decorating events on campus) safely arrived from the main campus in a yellow sleigh. Apparently Student Life’s Lisa Mazz was awakened from a long winter's nap just prior to judging since she was still wearing her red snowflake PJ's, furry slippers and a Santa hat when she arrived.

Once on task, they were faced with the difficult task of eating Christmas cookies, decadent chocolates, Dunkin' donut holes and peppermint candy cane bribes as they circled Lakeside's second floor holiday trail visiting various wonderlands. 

After touring all the villages, the judges sequestered themselves in a nearby (and undecorated) Lakeside Cabin to determine which naughty or nice department would receive the much coveted, official, refrigerator-ready, color award certificates and ultimately, the top prize of a red and green dancing elf hat – hard-won testimony to kinship with Clark Griswold and his legendary decorating skills. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of Champlain, the final results of Lakeside’s Decorating Contest: 
  • Honorable Mention - Continuing Professional Studies
  • Honorable Mention - Individual - Wayne Buttles
  • Third - Marketing
  • Second - Human Resources
  • First - Finance 
But we all know there are no losers when it comes to a competition like this and everyone gets a virtual participation ribbon. Thanks to all the Lakeside departments for bringing the Spirit of the Holidays to life and to the Lakeside activities committee for organizing yet another great event. 

The final question - what department will prove its true Vermont roots and just leave the damn decorations up until next year's contest. 

Happy holidays, and to all a good finals week. 

See all the Judging Photos: