In the bleak, wintery cold, there are a few bright spots that warm the heart. One such locale twinkles on the 1200 block of Snyder Avenue, where Robert Trimble has decked out his first floor’s storefront window in handmade angels, winter wonderies and other special seasonal treats.
“I wanted a winter theme. And you know how little kids make snow angles? I wanted to reflect that into a window,” the 43-year-old said. “I wanted to think outside the box: It’s not a typical snowman.”
Trimble was the winner of the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association’s First Annual Holiday Decorating Contest after judging took place Dec. 15.
“We promoted it to our members. We communicate with e-mail, so we e-mailed it and we posted it on our Web site,” association President Kim Massare said. “Another thing we did is we had some of our members print out the registration forms and, around this time of year, you start to see people putting up the decorations and people just started putting the registration forms in people’s mailboxes. It was kind of a word-of-mouth thing.”
The contest to promote holiday cheer was open to residences and businesses within the association’s boundaries that run from Snyder to Oregon avenues and Broad to Eighth streets.
“One of our goals as a civic association is to plan fun events that help build the community feeling in the neighborhood,” Massare, of 10th and Wolf streets, said. “We thought this would be a very fun way to do that — to get to meet one another and for our judges to walk and explore the neighborhood.”
The two-and-a-half-hour judging that took the three adjudicators — Massare, civic association member Jen Bing and celebrity judge Debra Mazda and her golden retriever — to all the entrant’s windows was a bonding event for all of the participants.
“I think 10 entries is pretty good for a first-time holiday decorating contest and I wouldn’t be surprised next year if it doubled,” Bing, who moved to Ninth and Daly streets in September, said. “I really enjoyed it. I’ve never experienced anything like this in Center City.”
The longtime Center City resident moved to the area because of its affordability and because the association — something she wanted to participate in — seemed very active.
“In Center City, no one really decorates their windows. I don’t remember ever seeing that,” the 33-year-old said. “I felt like it was the first time in my adult life I felt like I was more in a community.”
lifelong resident Trimble loves to decorate everything from a celebratory fete to a window that changes with the season.
“I’ve done decorations for people’s graduation parties. I’ve done a couple of weddings — anything to do with decorating and creating is what I like to do,” Trimble, who grew up at Seventh and Wharton streets, said.
The fraud investigator spent 24 hours building the angel- and winter-themed window and property decorations that light up the salon shop on the first floor of his building. When the judges came to cast their votes, second story-created snow flaked down on the trio.
“His window was amazing. It was very theatrical, first of all,” Massare, who grew up at 15th and Jackson streets, said. “The window itself had an original theme to it and all the decorations in the window were really unique and handcrafted.”
Judging was based on theme, character, creativity, originality, lighting and use of space. After collecting prizes from local vendors, Trimble, as the first-place finisher, got his pick of the goods.
With the $100 gift card to ShopRite at Front Street and Snyder claimed, other prizes such as a year of wellness with Mazda, a manicure at Hollywood Nail Salon, 2122 S. Broad, and a tray of holiday cookies from Cosmi’s Bakery, 1221 Oregon, were up for grabs.
“If you walk down Wolf between 13th and 12th almost everyone has lights up,” Massare said. “Snyder, which is one of our boundaries — there aren’t a lot of people who decorate on Snyder.”
Trimble agrees the stretch around his little beacon of light can be somewhat underappreciated, though it makes his magic a little bit more special.
“I love to see the little kids run up to the window and say “Mommy, Mommy, look!,” Trimble, who dreams of becoming a stager for Broadway productions, said. “I love to get people excited.”
Starting his tradition of window-bedecking two years ago, Trimble keeps things in-season with changing designs reflecting everything from Easter to Mardi Gras. This year’s holiday display used his usual method.
“What motivates me is, like, if I’m in New York City or Center City in Philadelphia the big displays of department stores or if I’m out shopping I’ll take a picture and put that into something that I’m going to create,” Trimble said. “I have a vision of things. I take a lot in.”
Creating everything by hand, the garnishing started Dec. 2 but was not without a small blip.
“The trees were made and they were suppose to move around,” Trimble said, adding with a laugh, “The mechanism I had made, it turned too fast and it looked like a tornado, and I was like, ‘I can’t do that!’”
The spinning mechanics were figured out and the winter wonderland went off without a hitch.
“I think that, you know, decorating for the holidays is a way of taking pride in where you live and I think decorating is a nice way to give back to your neighborhood,” Massare, 30, said. “It’s a nice time of year to get to know people and compliment them. It’s a nice connection to make.”
Though not currently a member, Trimble hopes to join the association as soon as possible and keep things going for years to come — perhaps on the other side of the ballot.
“I think it is a good idea, it should continue on,” Trimble said of the contest. “I would actually love to be a judge in it.”
Even if he takes on a new role next year, passersby can count on the short stretch of Snyder Trimble calls home to provide a reminder of things worth celebrating.
“I was out there when I was putting out garland and I had a couple people come that kind of caught me by surprise,” Trimble said. “I’m making something pretty for everybody else and putting a smile on someone’s face who’s maybe not having a good day.