It was a damp, chilly overcast day in downtown Riverhead Saturday, but inside the windows of the vacant storefronts, downtown was abuzz with activity.
East End Arts’ third annual Holiday Window Decorating Contest brought community and artist groups downtown to put a cheerful face on downtown’s pallid shopping scene.
The Peconic Community School, a new alternative school in downtown Riverhead, got a jump-start on the festivities Friday, decorating a window on the southeast side of downtown with a diorama depicting Grangebel Park and the River & Roots Community Garden, where students often do work on field trips.
Not far to the west, People for the Ethical Treatment of Elves, who last year won the contest with their “Occupy North Pole” display, were hatching a new plan: “Curiosity’s Christmas,” a depiction of Christmas on Mars with a full-size alien in a Santa Claus suit. Marvin the Martian, Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons and characters from Dr. Who were also planned for the windows.
This year, said Lauren Sisson, whose husband Mark Sisson hatched the idea, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Elves had morphed into the “Society of Alien, Non-human, Terrestrial and Android Clauses.”
Next door, 12-year olds Julia Eager and Evelyn Jaffe were decorating their window with the theme of “Arctic Foxes,” a forest Christmas party for wild animals.
The two hatched their plan after being involved with River & Roots Community Garden’s window last year.
“My mom brought home an application a while ago, but it took us a million years to get an idea,” said Evelyn.
Julia had just returned from a 10-day vacation to Boston, where she drew pictures of birds that she was now painting to add to the winter scene.
Not far down the street, Amy Kennedy was decorating the community garden’s window with a simple painting of tree and a message of peace.
“[River & Roots co-founder] Amy Davidson wanted to do something simple this year,” said Ms. Kennedy.
Sharing their window was a group of friends of Michael Hubbard, a Riverhead High School student who was badly burned in an accident two years ago.
Their window, titled “Michael’s Dream,” depicts “Brendan’s House,” a long-term care center for kids facing the same hurdles as Michael, in a house to be renovated on Sound Ave. in Northville.
Students from Riverhead Rotary’s Interact Club at Riverhead High School were decorating the window.
“This was the perfect project. If we win, the money will go right to the house,” said club advisor Carole Kirchhoff.
Visitors to downtown Riverhead have until Dec. 20 to vote on their favorite windows at the East End Arts Gallery on East Main Street.