Fourth Annual Holiday Decorating Contest Features Sharks, Santas, Toys, and More

By Samuel Lopez, Staff Writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer
Photo of the entryway to DMS’ “A Sharknado Christmas!”

The vibrant entryway to DMS’ “A Sharknado Christmas!”

The 2017 holiday season brought cold temperatures and heated competition to NCI at Frederick as 14 groups faced off in the R&W Club of Frederick’s Fourth Annual Holiday Decorating Contest.

Keeping with tradition, many of the competitors sought to outdo not just each other’s themed entries, but also their own decorations from previous years. Accordingly, this year’s themes ranged from childhood memories to local landscapes to the downright outlandish.

Each of the participants exhibited extraordinary collaboration and creativity in decking their halls, but in the end, the Data Management Services, Inc., (DMS) team from Building 362 took first place with their “A Sharknado Christmas!” decorations.

Visitors found the entire building covered in eclectic shark-themed Christmas trappings. Snowflakes cut in tessellated shark patterns dangled from the ceiling alongside sharks made from toilet paper rolls and inflatable sharks wearing Santa hats. In some places, fishing nets or paper cutouts of Santa and his elves riding or fleeing from sharks embellished the walls. There was even a “Sharknado tree,” an inverted Christmas tree wrapped in white garland and adorned with shark ornaments.

DMS credited its victory to herculean teamwork, craft sessions during lunch breaks, and a collective eagerness to win, evidenced by a note on one of their whiteboards: “#1 Priority: Sharknado Christmas.”

DMS’ victory toppled 2016’s champions, the team from Building 430. However, Building 430’s “Toyland” theme still won the judges’ admiration this year and earned a respectable second place.

As the name implies, visitors to the building embarked on a nostalgic journey along hallways decorated with favorite childhood toys and signs declaring “Try Me!” Some of the more pronounced decorations included a working miniature Hot Wheels track made from cardboard; office doors sporting homemade Battleship boards, complete with cardboard battleships and pegs; a Lite-Brite fashioned out of cardboard and over 200 holiday lights; and a cardboard Easy-Bake Oven containing real cookies for passersby.

Third place was awarded to Building 310, the winners from 2014, for their “Frosty Frederick, Inside and Out” theme, which showcased iconic Frederick landmarks decked out for winter and the holidays. Entrants to the building were greeted with a floor-to-ceiling paper cutout of Baker Park’s bell tower in the two-story stairwell, while concealed bells chimed out holiday music.

Upstairs, walls were draped with paper to resemble other Frederick locations, such as Shab Row—which featured an arching entryway, lights, and cardboard tree branches—and the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum. Nearby bulletin boards were remade in the likeness of windows overlooking winter scenes around the city.

Multiple other teams were recognized as “Outstanding Participants,” including Occupational Health Services (“Gingerbread ER”); Building 426’s Protective Services office (“deLIGHTful Christmas”); Building 560, Room 31-16 (“Island of Misfit Toys”); and Building 549’s Scientific Library (“Candyland”). Other outstanding participants included Building 539-1CB; Building 469, Room 150; Building 349/350; and three office suites at the Advanced Technology Research Facility—E3200, E3400, and E3600.

Two prizes were also awarded for best individual door decorations. First place went to Peggy Pearl and Emily Warrenfeltz of Building 350, while Courtney Kennedy of Building 244 took second place.

Staff from NCI at Frederick’s Office of Scientific Operations judged this year’s contest, rating the entries based on their visual impact, creativity, and craftsmanship.

All winners received gift cards to Glory Days in recognition of their holiday spirit. The R&W Club of Frederick encourages them to save their meal receipts and turn them in to Susie Culler in Building 549, as the club will be reimbursed for a portion of the amount, which will help fund future events.


Photo of winners from DMS

Nathalie Walker, Office of Scientific Operations, presenting the first-place certificate and prize to DMS representative Michelle Short, while Madison Senseney (wearing shark mask) looks on.

Photo of winners from Building 430

Nathalie Walker presenting the second-place certificate and prize to Stacy Taylor of Building 430. Also pictured are (left to right): Megan Kaminski, Jay Knight, David Cragg, Randy Johnson, Naomi Ohashi, Joe Ivanic, Justin Palk, Sergio Rodriguez, and Roxanne Angell.

Photo of winners from Building 310

Nathalie Walker presenting the third-place certificate and prize to Dara Corbett of Building 310. Representing the Neutrophil Monitoring Laboratory: Debbie Long Priel, Dani Fink, Karen Lau, Laura Coffin Mendez, and Jessica Kerr. Representing the Virus Isolation and Serology Laboratory: Robin Dewar, Helene Highbarger, Akram Shah, Tauseef Rehman, Perrine Lallemand, Ivery Davis, Gregg Mendez, and Ayub Khan. Representing the Laboratory of Human Retrobiology: Xiaoli Jiao, Ju Qiu, Xiaojin Hu, Jun Yang, Brad Sherman, and Aravind Ganeshan. Representing the Clinical Services Program Quality Assurance Program: Lucas Barr. Not pictured: Kimberly Batty and Jeanne Warfield.

Photo of Courtney Kennedy, second-place winner of the door competition

Courtney Kennedy, second-place winner of the individual door competition.

Part of DMS’ “A Sharknado Christmas!” DMS’ “Sharknado tree” Part of Building 430’s “Toyland” The Hot Wheels door in Building 430’s “Toyland” Part of Building 430’s “Toyland” Building 310’s rendition of Shab Row, part of “Frosty Frederick, Inside and Out” Frederick’s Schifferstadt Architectural Museum, as recreated by Building 310 Occupational Health Services’ “Gingerbread ER” Occupational Health Services’ “Gingerbread ER” The “Pharmasweet” in Occupational Health Services’ “Gingerbread ER” The entryway to Protective Services’ “deLIGHTful Christmas” Part of Protective Services’ “deLIGHTful Christmas” Building 560’s “Isle of Misfit Toys” King Kandy’s castle, part of the Scientific Library’s “Candyland” Part of Building 539-1CB’s decorations Part of Building 469’s “Gingerbread Candyland” One of the many decorated doors in Building 349/350 Frank Blanchard, director of Public Affairs, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, stands amid ATRF E3200’s “Candyland” decorations. ATRF E3400’s competitors and decorations ATRF E3600’s competitors and decorations