Earth's window display won a prize for Best Interpretation of Flower Show Theme for this window display. (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Paula M. Riley

If you find yourself dreaming of sun-kissed beaches, rolling surf and tropical flowers, you can thank the businesses who participated in this year’s 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Shows Window Decorating Contest. Local stores, bakeries, restaurants and salons decorated their windows in celebration of this year’s flower show theme: “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha.”

“The Annual Flower Show Window and Lobby Decorating contest is a fun, creative and beautiful way for Philadelphia-area retail businesses to get involved with the Flower Show,” said Stephanie Edwards, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society “The window and lobby displays get business owners, shoppers and passers-by excited about each year’s theme, weeks prior to the how opening.”

This year’s categories were Most Fashion Inspired, Most Whimsical, Best Homemade Display, Best Use of Flowers/Greenery, Best Interpretation of Flower Show Theme, Best Use of Flower Show Poster, Crowd Favorite, Best Overall Lobby, Overall Window Displays and Honorable mention.

Six of the 15 Chestnut Hill businesses that participated in the contest were recognized by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for their efforts. All winners receive Flower Show tickets and a beautifully framed flower show poster said Edwards.

The “Best Overall Window Display” was awarded to Metropolitan Bakery, 8607 Germantown Ave. The bakery shared the award with Just Dogs Gourmet in Center City.

Kim Davis and Grantley Smith, employees at Metropolitan Bakery, created a fun display that features sand, seashells, a mannequin in a grass skirt with flowers in her hair and baguettes shaped like flowers. Owner Marcy Kay Lilly explained that their windows always include baked goods, but the Flower Show contest added a new element of fun.

“We have always participated,” Lilly said. “But this year, since there were so many other stores doing it, it became a very friendly competition,” she added.

Schuy Wood Nunn, owner of Indigo Schuy, was thrilled to win the award for “Crowd Favorite.” Her display was created by Goodeyes3 and featured the boutique’s activewear along with a surfboard and bird of paradise flowers.

“We really appreciate all the support we received from the Chestnut Hill community and our Facebook fans,” Nunn said. “We had a blast, and it was great to take part in this event with other Chestnut Hill businesses.”

Earth Garden Home, 8433 Germantown Ave., brought home “Best Interpretation of Flower Show Theme,” and Artisans on the Avenue was awarded “Best Use of the Flower Show Poster.” All participants were required to include the poster in the window, but Artisans on the Avenue took it to a new level. The shop’s owners created the illusion of a palm tree using posters as palm fronds and attaching them to bamboo poles which were placed at the base of a table made from twigs.

Baker Street Bread, 8009 Germantown Ave., won “Best Handmade Display” for its window, which included multiple floral designs made entirely out of bread. Even the Hill’s newest tenant, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, got into the game, draping its large window with tropical flowers – a huge swag made of colorful leis. For its efforts, it was awarded, “Honorable Mention.”

Seventy stores, salons, hotel lobbies and restaurants throughout the Philadelphia area participated in this contest, but no region had the participation or the awards that Chestnut Hill garnered. Comments on Facebook and other media outlets referenced this high participation. Eileen Reilly, Chestnut Hill retail recruiter was not surprised by the businesses’ involvement.

“There is a growing commitment to make our commercial district something special, from the CHBA office to each and every business on the Avenue,” she said.

While businesses in Chestnut Hill have participated in the Window Decorating Contest in the past, this year’s turnout was impressive, according to Peggy Miller of the Chestnut Hill Business Association (CHBA).

“The members of the Association really stepped up to the plate,” she said. “They are more excited to participate in these events as they realize the benefits of working together.”

Angela Heithecker of HobNob Designs, who has participated in the contest for several years and won an award last year, commented that although her window did not receive an award in 2012 she is still celebrating.

“I feel like the whole avenue is growing to be quite a destination,” Heithecker said. “Having all of those stores participate and be so cohesive helps make this be a shopping destination.”

Ten Thousand Villages painted a Hawaiian scene directly on its window and Diamond Spa created two volcanoes, complete with hot lava. Other businesses who participated in this year’s contest include Bird in Hand Consignment, Bredenbeck’s Bakery, El Quetzal, Hill Company, Robertson’s Flowers, and The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.

Reilly applauded the businesses that got involved.

“Events in Chestnut Hill are only as strong as the participation,” Reilly said. “The participants should challenge their neighbors to get on board for the next event, for example this fall’s Harry Potter weekend. If everyone is on board, the story writes itself and Chestnut Hill is noticed far off Germantown Ave. The easiest way to attract shoppers and new business is to be noticed.”

Visit the storefronts or go to www.facebook.com/theflowershow to see the windows