Gabriella Cusato celebrates Christmas with imagination.
Her vision of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve features a crimson-clad Santa standing behind a worn sack full of presents, with three patches stitched on the front.
An elf frolics near the bold “North Pole” sign, and a red-nosed reindeer peeks from behind a decorated, snow-flocked evergreen.
Gabriella’s creativity has earned her one of the top awards in The Daily Gazette’s 2015 Christmas Coloring Contest.
The 11-year-old — a member of Cusato fraternal quintuplets on Angelina Terrace in Guilderland — has been judged the top artist in the 8-12 age category.
Addison Klym, 7, of Rotterdam, won the 7-and-under division.
Both colorists received four tickets to “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” at Proctors in Schenectady on Jan. 23.
More than 450 entries were mailed or hand-delivered to the newspaper. A group of 2-year-olds were the youngest, and Jane Gwiazdowski was the oldest artist. At 93, she also sent in a version of Santa.
Gabriella, a sixth-grader at Farnsworth Middle School who loves running, skiing and dancing, began working on her holiday page shortly after Thanksgiving and used her colored pencils for weeks. Her mother, Karen Cusato, submitted the entry in person on Dec. 15 — just before the deadline.
“I saw blank space; it just looked too plain,” Gabriella said of her additions, which included a field of yellow stars in a blue sky and long, scrolling “naughty” and “nice” lists in front of Santa’s bag. Three rolled Daily Gazette newspapers also are tucked into the bag.
“I knew I had to fill in some of the plain areas where there was not a lot going on,” she said.
Her brother and sister quintuplets tried to convince Gabriella to make her “naughty” list a little longer. But it’s pretty short.
“I really like my elf,” Gabriella said. “He’s pointing to the sign of the North Pole, and the reindeer is Rudolph — everybody likes Rudolph.”
“Cinderella” will be a family affair. Quintuplet sister Victoria, older by a minute, will get one of the tickets. Big sister Francesca and mom Karen also are in.
“I’ve always wanted to see ‘Cinderella’ onstage,” Gabriella said. “I want to see how they do the costume changes, from rags to dress.”
Fashion is another interest. Gabriella said she might want a career in the arts field but already is considering an education at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Splashes of color
For Addison Klym, big color helped sway judges at the newspaper. There’s a blue sky and a giant banner in the sky that says “Christmas is Here.” The snow-flocked evergreens have lights on their sides and stars on their tops.
Addison, a second-grader at St. Mary’s Institute in Amsterdam, might be doing cartwheels, headstands and handstands when she’s not coloring.
“I wanted it to look like the North Pole,” she said. “I like to color with lots of color, and I did it neatly.”
Addison will take her sister Caitlyn, 6, father Eric Klym and stepmother Pina to the big show at Proctors.
But that’s not until January. For now, Addison is looking forward to Christmas morning.
“I get candy in my stocking,” she said. “And presents!”
Addison entered the contest in 2013 but did not color last year. She said she’s always in practice, with experience putting reds, greens, blues and purples into flowers and rainbows.
Said Eric Klym about Addison’s yuletide triumph: “I’m very excited. I couldn’t believe it when we got the news. I was just so happy for her.”