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Times Review Deck the Halls contest

The Perivolaris home in Mattituck. (Credit: Paul Squire)

As the judges for our third annual Deck the Halls holiday-decorating contest approached the Perivolaris home at the northern end of Love Lane, a small SUV trailed us.

The vehicle parked for a moment to allow its passengers to gaze at the lights so perfectly displayed at the waterfront Mattituck property. Then it turned around and drove away.

“We get that all the time,” homeowner Mike Perivolaris told us. “People want to stop and admire the decorations. We love it.”

For Mike, his wife, Kathy, and their son, Marcos, decorating for Christmas is both a labor of love and a family tradition. After finishing twice as Deck the Halls runners-up, the family took top honors this year, earning a $1,000 gift card from our grand-prize sponsor, Riverhead Building Supply.

To say the Perivolaris family has become a bit of a staff favorite over the years — earning high marks, but not enough to win the contest — would be an understatement.

“It’s like being greeted by family,” display sales coordinator Cerria Torres said of approaching the house. “Aside from the perfectly classic decorations, I just love the warm holiday greeting they give everyone.”


That’s not to take away from just how well-festooned the property is. Some of the decorations, like a traditional manger, are from Mike’s parents’ home in Queens and show some character-adding wear and tear. Mike also said he insists on using traditional large, multi-colored bulbs that give a nostalgic feel to the house’s perimeter.

Times Review Deck the Halls contest
The Perivolaris home in Mattituck. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Although some of the family’s decorations date back to another time and place, the farmhouse’s overall style, and the way the Perivolarises decorate their property, is classic North Fork.

From the string of lights, holly and golden bells on a small lighthouse figure overlooking Mattituck Inlet, to the ornaments lining their chicken and duck coop, a clear sense of place emanates from their home.

“Nothing says Christmas on the North Fork like a gorgeous holiday chicken coop,” said northforker editor Vera Chinese.

Attention to detail is key to the Perivolarises’ decorations. Prepared over a few weekends from Thanksgiving to mid-December, the family spaces out its many wreaths, bulbs and displays, leaving no corner of the property bare. Even their son’s batting cage featured lights this year, and some outdoor speakers were used to play holiday music. Meanwhile, a front bay window features a Christmas village display.

Seven of our eight judges selected the Perivolaris house as the contest’s number-one home. An eighth judge ranked it as second.

Times Review Deck the Halls
The family decorates the chicken and duck coop with lights and ornaments. (Credit: Paul Squire)

“I want to live here,” said reporter Nicole Smith. “It’s neat, detailed and has a perfect amount of decorations.”

“Even the dog had a Christmas sweater on when we visited,” added reporter Kelly Zegers.

Each house we judged this year had unique touches and the property owners always have a great story to tell. Two houses that didn’t earn one of our top four spots are also worth mentioning.

The Geiss home on Sigsbee Road in Mattituck is one we’ve visited three times, and it earned two honorable mention votes this year. When we stopped by, a family was walking around the yard admiring the property’s collection of inflatables, which feature many holiday-themed cartoon characters sure to please children. A handcrafted wooden manger is also a top decoration.

Another entry worth a nod is the Smith home on Peconic Bay Boulevard in Laurel. Homeowner Laura Jens-Smith said she entered the contest for the first time this year — earning one honorable mention vote — after reading about it in the newspaper. She has a traditional Dickens-style village inside the home and said the contest forced her to decorate outdoors more than she usually might.

“I blew so many fuses,” she joked. “I called my neighbor and I’m like, ‘Can I connect to your house?’ ”

Despite the snafu, Jens-Smith said she looks forward to continue to enter the contest and hopes other families feel similarly inspired to participate.

“It’s become a nice tradition,” said director of sales and marketing Sonja Reinholt Derr. “It’s great to get to know all these people.

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Times Review Deck the Halls
Kathy and Michael Perivolaris with their dog DJ at their home on Monday night. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

Past winners:
2015 — George and Sandra Berry, Southold
2014 — Kevin and Tammy Kruger, Southold

Meet the judges:

Eight Times Review Media Group staffers judged the homes in our third annual Deck the Halls contest. Transportation was provided by Red Carpet Limousines of Rocky Point. Each judge assigned a first-place vote and selected three honorable mentions. The winner and runners-up were determined based on the total number of votes.

The following employees served as judges this year:

Vera Chinese, northforker editor
Sonja Reinholt Derr, director of sales and marketing
Krysten Massa, reporter
Grant Parpan, executive editor
Nicole Smith, reporter
Cerria Torres, display sales coordinator
Tina Volinski, sales executive
Kelly Zegers, reporter

The runners up

The Hartmann family
60 Further Lane, Riverhead
One first-place vote, six honorable mentions

Times Review Deck the Halls
The Hartmann home in Riverhead. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

For the second consecutive year, the Hartmann family has earned the top score of any Riverhead Town property entered in our contest. It was also one of just two houses to earn a first-place vote.

“It’s incredible,” said reporter Krysten Massa, a first-time judge. “It’s just so bright and festive.”

John Hartmann said he has no idea exactly how many pieces he has, but it’s clear the family had more decorations than anyone else who entered our contest this year. Mr. Hartmann has been decorating the outside of his house with the help of his son for more than 15 years.

Among the unique touches is a Christmas countdown clock in front of the house showing how close we are to Christmas Day, right down to the second. Other touches include a snowman with a thermometer, which displayed at temperature of 30 degrees at the time of our visit, and 34 inflatable decorations.

Hartmann said the biggest obstacle for him is fitting all the trimmings on the property.

“It’s a blast of Christmas,” said sales executive Tina Volinski.

Although his house isn’t located along a main road like some of our other entries, Mr. Hartmann said he still gets many people dropping by to say hello or pose for selfies in front of his house each Christmas season. It’s a big reason he continues to decorate.

“The house has a real wow factor when driving by,” said reporter Nicole Smith.

The Padden family
442 Deep Hole Road, Calverton
Eight honorable-mention votes

Times Review Deck the Halls
The Padden home in Calverton. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

In the three years we’ve been judging the Deck the Halls competition, the Padden family home is the only one where lights are synchronized to music you can play through your car stereo during your visit.

Programing all the songs through computer software is a monumental task, but one homeowner Chris Padden has been happy to take on the past two years. It’s also a real crowd-pleaser.

“It’s really fun and upbeat,” sales and marketing director Sonja Reinholt Derr said of the Paddens’ display.

“I’m so impressed with the amount of work they put in,” added Volinski.

In total, the property has 40 inflatable decorations, including a Jurassic Christmas section with holiday-themed dinosaurs. On another part of the property, Santa can be seen popping out from behind an opening outhouse door.

The big draw, however, is the synced music, which allows passersby to park the car and soak up the holiday spirit.

“I love the dedication,” said Massa. “I love the music.”

The Pasca family
18900 Main Road, Mattituck
Six honorable-mention votes

Times Review Deck the Halls
The Pasca family in Mattituck. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

A newcomer to our contest, this highly visible Mattituck display earned the highest marks of any first-time entry.

Tony and Kathy Pasca said they’ve been decorating the house for more than a decade but have begun taking things to the next level over the past couple of years.

“I love that they feel a sense of duty to decorate, being on Main Road,” remarked northforker editor Vera Chinese.

What you might not realize as you pass by is that many of the Pascas’ decorations were designed by hand, including most of the dozen Christmas trees in the front yard and the star-shaped lights on the front of the colonial house. A penguin pond, classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer characters and, of course, Christmas Yoda also caught our judges’ attention.

“It’s a beautiful display with a cohesive design,” said display sales coordinator Cerria Torres. “An incredible eye-catcher on your evening commute.”