Ask more than 100 young art students to come up with drawings of herons for the annual Christmas ornament design contest, and they’ll produce more than 100 variations on the theme.
Recently, a team of judges carefully studied submissions by students from the Marco Island Charter Middle School before coming up with a winner, two runners-up and three honorable mentions.
The contest is run under the auspices of Christmas Island Style, and the winning entry gets to become the following year’s signature tree ornament, retailing at shops and businesses all over the island.
Eighth-grade student Laney Dunstan was a unanimous winner with her Santa sleigh featuring herons doing the work of Donner, Blitzen and co., while Emily Morris and Zack Antaramian took the runner up honors.
Honorable mentions went to Ashley Francis, Skylar Siems and Jade Phillips.
Host for the judging was the Marco Island Center for the Arts, whose Executive Director Hyla Crane said art is essential to young students’ development.
“It enables kids to express themselves, especially if they have difficulty learning languages or read late,” she said. “Art is a way of telling stories.”
Ornament contest co-chair Bette McGilvray gave special thanks to art teacher Gigi Garraty, and the judges; State Rep. Bob Rommel, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, Marco City Manager Mike McNees, Fire Chief Mike Murphy, Police Chief Tracy Frazzano, the Art Center’s administrative coordinator Dustin Nesmith and Wells Fargo representative Brandy Simpson.
McGilvray also thanked co-chair Barbara Dasti for her contributions to the success of the annual contest.
The winners will be introduced to the public at the annual tree lighting festivities Saturday, December 7th at Veterans Community Park.