With Hanukkah in full swing and Christmas only weeks away, downtown Montauk has already been transformed into a winter wonderland.Although the weather remains mild and there is no snow to be found, the storefronts on Main Street could get any Grinch humming a Christmas tune.
For the last five years or so, the Montauk Chamber of Congress has conducted the Starbrite Holiday Lighting Contest, giving local businesses additional inspiration to get into the holiday spirit.
Each year, the chamber chooses stand-out shops that best fit each award category, including “most inspirational” and “most representative of Montauk.”
Laraine Creegan, executive director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, said the idea came about after the lighting of the Montauk Point Lighthouse began to draw in crowds.
“We wanted to encourage people to come out and see all the beautiful decorations so we encourage shops to [participate in] the contest,” said.
Right in the heart of downtown Montauk stands White’s Department Store, a serious contender in this year’s contest. In the windows you can see a rollercoaster with merry woodland creatures on board with arrangements of evergreen trees making up the background. Meanwhile, the ground is coated with cottonball snow and colorful bulbs suspend from the ceiling.
Jenniffer Cano, a White’s employee for seven years, was the mastermind behind this year’s window display.
“This year we decided to put more lights and more snow,” said Ms. Cano. “We always put out different animals, but we tried to do it nice and simple.”
Across the to road and down the street sits another competitor—Homeport Town. One of seven stores owned by Tom and Georgia Flight, the jewelry and accessory shop boasts an impressive window scene that could be ripped out of any Currier and Ives lithograph: an old-fashioned motor vehicle stands atop a bank of snow surrounded by oak trees in between two glittering statement necklaces.
Inside, the holiday decor continues with a massive display of lit up garland coiling up a stairway adorned with classic red stockings and an oversized nutcracker at the base.
Homeport Town employee Olivia Cabrera said each year Mr. Flight and the staff brainstorm for an overall theme for the store.
“[It’s] a cold day in Montauk this year,” said Ms. Cabrera, who decorated the store with colleaque Jill Morton.
Reflecting on his many well-decorated stores, Mr. Flight said he feels it is the responsibility of the shopkeepers to keep Montauk going during the off-season.
“I think it’s so important for Main Street to be alive in winter,” he said.
Gathering all the decorations is a year-long process, said Mr. Flight. While he purchases some items from market trade shows, other decorations, like the fireplace in the window of Shine, are made by hand.
“We decorate all the stores and make the town pop and look alive.”
The deadline for storefront decoration is December 10 and the judging will take place on December 14.