For the young at heart, Santa Claus comes tonight.
Zoe Ronda and Brendan Neely can expect bonus gifts from Mr. Claus: He is certain to appreciate the artistic efforts of Zoe and Brendan on his behalf.
Ronda, 11, of Stillwater, and Neely, 7, who lives in Niskayuna, are the winners of the 2018 Daily Gazette Christmas Coloring Contest. Both children used bright colors to show a smiling Santa celebrating the season with two children. The group gathers in front of a small house, complete with chimney on the roof.
Ronda triumphed in the 8 -12 age category. Neely won the 7-and-under classification.
For their efforts, each received a crisp $100 bill. Twenty-five runners-up will receive two movie passes to Proctors. In all, 413 children entered the contest. The names of 405 are published today; eight artists forgot to sign their work.
Ronda, who is home schooled and studies fifth-grade lessons, has entered the coloring contest for the past five years. She earned runner-up prizes twice.
This year, she loaded up her entry with colors and extras.
"I just thought of different things I could add -- different techniques I could do," she said.
The artist put shingles on the house that stands in the background of the scene. Christmas lights are strung along the roof edges, and Ronda added a window encircled by a wreath in the front of the house. A tiny face peers out the window.
"It's me!" Ronda said.
Ronda showed her imagination in other ways. Two small signs say "Holly" and "Jolly." The "Merry Christmas" sign in front of Santa and company is striped in holiday red and green.
Ronda also exercised artistic license by installing a brown sack full of Christmas presents on the side of the drawing.
"And I added more stars," she said, of the yellow shapes on her deep-blue sky.
The sky was an easy choice: "My favorite color is blue, so I like to use blue," she said.
The colorist works with pencils, crayons and markers almost every day, often with her sister Ivy, 9.
"I usually color pictures my mom prints out," Ronda said. "I like seasonal -- if it's Christmas, Santa and Christmas trees. I like to color little kids."
Easter and Halloween scenes are other specialties.
Ronda exercised perseverance by entering the contest every year. She has advice for the hundreds of other kids who entered this year and who will try again next Christmas.
"Add lots of color," she said. "Add stuff, and make it different."
Doreen Ronda said her two other children, Isabella, 16, and Zachary, 13, also color a lot.
"They're all great at it, they color all the time," Ronda said, adding that her older kids believe there should be a coloring contest classification for teenagers.
"It helps them be creative and allows for down time to decompress after studying," Ronda said. "It's a good family thing, too. I like to color, myself."
Neely, a second-grader at Rosendale Elementary School, loves to use blue shades in his creations.
"I liked the house and the stars," said Neely, who was interviewed last week, as his parents coached sporting events at Niskayuna High School. Father Shaun is the wrestling coach; Sarah is the girls' varsity basketball coach.
The artist seemed pleased his work -- entered in the contest for the first time -- had been recognized. He also loved the idea of a $100 bill.
"It's cool because I won," he said, smiling.
Neely gave the cozy house a layer of Christmas lights. He used pencils to give the scene a soft, warm appearance. And while he was happy to dress Santa in the traditional red and white, he also likes coloring another famous character who does his best work at night.
"Batman," Neely said. "I use black and gray."
Neely also likes drawing, playing outside and sports like soccer, baseball and wrestling. He's also a fan of hanging out with older brother Conner, a fourth-grader, and Ella, who's in pre-school.
With the new year approaching, Neely does have some plans to spend that big bill.
"I'm going to buy some stuff," he said.
Crayons and colored pencils?
"Maybe," he said.
The following 25 runners-up will each receive (in the mail) two movie passes to Proctors:
- Tyler Rorick, Ballston Spa
- Kaylee Lawton, Middleburgh
- Charlotte Hull, Niskayuna
- Morgan Lorey, Glenville
- Maeve Hull, Niskayuna
- Evelyse Hernandez, Schenectady
- Rosemary Ottati, Niskayuna
- Haley Garrett, Niskayuna
- Kiera MacIntosh, Scotia
- Jack Flynn, Niskayuna
- Lily Gigante, Niskayuna
- Randi Morris, Schenectady
- Travis Rorick, Ballston Spa
- Danica Morris, Schenectady
- Arabelle Robbins, Rotterdam
- Gianna Skalski, Albany
- Jamison Colbeth, Amsterdam
- Ben Fondacuro, Schenectady
- Taylor Cusano, Glenville
- Davis Heller, Niskayuna
- Ella Scorzafava, Schenectady
- John Thompson, Clifton Park
- Madison Dolly, Fort Johnson
- Sophie Kobayashi, Delmar
- Sheila Marino, Scotia
Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected].