Beauty contest: Community decorates South Bethany canals

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: The top three groups in this year’s contest pose for a photo in front of a South Bethany canal end.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: The top three groups in this year’s contest pose for a photo in front of a South Bethany canal end.Inviting residents to decorate public space has given South Bethany a series of miniature parks. With five miles of canals, the town has plenty of canal ends that people have decorated and planted for the 6th Annual Adopt-A-Canal/Road End Beauty Contest.

The Adopt-A-Canal program lets residents take ownership and beautify their community.

“It just truly makes a difference. We’re seeing — as the years pass — the growth of the canal ends,” said organizer Councilwoman Sue Callaway. “And it still gets the community involved in doing something for the town, and it [gets] people together to work on many of them.”

In a municipality where the primary Town revenue is realty-related taxes, South Bethany’s success depends partly on residents who maintain a pleasant living space.

“It’s a successful program that’s made a difference,” Callaway said.

The resulting gardens improve the aesthetics of the town, and the community is coming together both to design and enjoy them.

This July, the public voted online for their favorite from among 32 entrants. The top three winners received gift certificates from sponsor Lord’s Landscaping, while two honorable mention winners received gift baskets.

The Town’s Community Enhancement Committee (CEC) presented the awards on Aug. 12. Callaway said it was sweet to see some first-time winners, who were particularly delighted to join in the festivities.

Winners included (first place) Phil and Cicily I?acangelo, for York Road between Victoria Drive and Bristol Drive; (second place) Kathy Jankowski and Rob Youngs, for Canal Drive between W. 3rd and W. 4th Streets; (third place) Bryant And Olivia Elrod, for Route 1 between Sussex Place and Tern Drive; (fourth place) Tammy and Pete Werner, for Kent Place; and (fifth place) Garnet and Tom Timbario, for Route 1 between Petherton Drive and the Anchorage forebay.

People decorate their gardens with whatever they think walkers, joggers or pets might enjoy: flowers, trees, benches, dog water bowls and more.

The Iacangelos had tended their canal end for decades before the contest even began.

“Their canal end is just very colorful, just has a real nice quality look to it and has a nice quality background. They tend to it a lot,” Callaway said. “A lot of care goes into it.”

After winning the 2014 contest, Iacangelo described the growing sense of town pride that’s blossomed with the new gardens.

“Not only are we beautifying canal ends, but I’ve noticed people in the neighborhood, they’re replanting flowers in their homes,” Iacangelo had said.

The efforts of their neighbors have meant many residents are being inspired to beautify their own corner of town. Meanwhile, the more established plants are growing into fuller trees and bushes.

This year, the CEC thanked citizens for their volunteerism; Town Hall staff Pam Smith and Dee Burbage, for online and ballot support; and CEC members Bobbe Stephan, Carol Stevenson and Pat Weisgerber for contest logistics.