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.
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.
“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.
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