ANSONIA - Thirty-two area children will be receiving special-made wooden toys this Christmas, thanks to the generosity of Ansonia Lumber Co. and 18 skilled toymakers.
Yes, Ansonia Lumber Co. hosted its 20th annual toy contest on Saturday morning, despite inclement weather, with all of the toys that were made for the project going to the Marines Toys For Tots program to benefit area youngsters this holiday.
Scott Phillips of the television program, American Woodshop, returned once again to judge the entries and entertain the audience.
“This is the only contest I judge,” said Phillips, “especially when you’re doing it for the spirit of Christmas.”
As usual, Phillips looks over the toys and talks with those in attendance before it comes down to judging what was brought in for the competition.
“You’re here in a blizzard doing wonderful things,” he said as he looked over the items. “This is just not right. You expect me to pick this over that. It’s impossible. It’s tough. You make it hard on me every year. The weather outside…is the spirit of Christmas. This is Christmas. I get more joy in this than anything else at Christmas.”
Before picking the top five winners, Phillips remarked. “I judge which toy I would go to first if I were a child. There isn’t a store-bought toy that a child would love more than what’s here right now.”
He urged the artisans to sign and date their toys when they make them from here on out.He also encouraged the woodworkers to share their skills with others, including children.
“God has blessed you with skills,” he said. “Please grab someone in you community…a child, a relative…and get them in the shop and share ideas with them. This is what America is all about…the spirit of giving and the spirit of doing. It melts my heart and it will melt the hearts of these children.”
He said he was torn between three of the toys for first place…a working ferris wheel, an auto racing game and a child’s work bench.
With the help of 8-year-old Marcus Thorp of Ansonia, who also made a couple of toys for this year’s contest, Phillips settled on the child’s work bench, made by John Burnett,
Second place was the ferris wheel, created by Harry Niswonger, and third was the race track, made by Kenny Pence. Winning fourth place was a logging truck, made by Neal Plieman, and fifth was a treasure chest with a folk art puzzle inside it, made by Ron Myers.
“Your craftsmanship is stellar,” Phillips told the entrants. “They are all spectacular. I’m thanking you for all the children you’ll light up this year.”
All of the winners received special prizes, and all of the entrants received a stack of lumber from Frank Miller Lumber and a bottle of Gorilla glue from Ansonia Lumber.
Last year, the Ansonia Lumber Co.’s annual toy contest was televised on American Woodshop.
“You’re getting a lot of publicity in the country,” Phillips said. “Now, there are 41 new programs in America like this. They’re watching what you’re doing.”
Mitch McCabe, who has coordinated these contests for the past 20 years, recognized Charles Foreman of Palestine, who has been to every contest with a gift.
McCabe said the contest was held at Flaig Lumber in New Madison for the first five years and at Ansonia Lumber the past 12.
“We didn’t know what we were going to get that first year,” McCabe said.
In addition to Foreman, others that first year 20 years ago who competed were Ralph Flatter, Tim Moss, Bob Boyd, Joe Coning, Frank Johnston, Carl Albright and Allen Cox.