Manahawkin resident and Seaside Heights patrolman Kevin Shouldis has been named the local entry winner in Patch's "Deck the House" contest, but it wasn't easy.
Every year, Shouldis makes the decorations on his front lawn by hand, with his wife and children also helping. But, this year he couldn't add to his collection because "right around the time that Sandy hit, is when I usually start to work on them. It was just too busy this year."
He said he was happy to be able to take a day or two off after the Thanksgiving holiday, to put the decorations up on his Ocean Acres lawn. He has moved into the final round with this entry.
Shouldis said that he has been making the characters on his lawn - including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Peanuts crew, and the gang from the Grinch that Stole Christmas - since his daughter, Katherine - who is now a senior at Southern Regional High School - was 5.
"We still watch it every year, and she knows everything about it. I remember the first year she wanted a Rudolph, so we traced it out of a pattern on plywood, and we all painted it together," Shouldis said. "I've learned over the years, I'm using better material now to make the figures a bit more durable."
Although he is not a finalist in the top 25, (cast your vote for one of the 25 national finalists here) Shouldis said he was happy to have the chance to compete.
Shouldis said he, his wife, Laura, and their children, Katherine, and Brendan, were excited to be able to compete.