By GERIANNE WRIGHT
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A clever take on the Leaning Tower of Pisa and good balance was enough for Press-Republican newsroom and Facebook voters to select Sara-Ann Wolf’s photo entry as winner of the annual Newspaper on Vacation Contest.
The photo, which shows Wolf perched on a post and leaning in the same manner as the famous tower in Pisa, Italy, was taken on a trip she took with 12 classmates and two adults after graduating from college in May.
“I graduated May 12, and the next day I was on a flight with friends and classmates on my way to Rome,” she said.
“We spent a few days in Rome seeing the Vatican City, the Coliseum and other famous spots in Rome. The photo was taken in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We were only in Pisa for a small amount of time before having to travel to Umbria, Florence, Sarzana, la Spezia Fiesole and the Cinque Terre — along the Mediterranean coast, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Wolf said she decided to take the Press on vacation with her to help track all the places she went and to keep “a piece of home with me.”
“Traveling is something I have always been curious about, and during my college years I was sure to take advantage of many travel options,” she said. She’s visited the Amazon in Brazil and volunteered during her spring break to help the less fortunate in places in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.
This was her first foray into the annual photo contest, which in the past generally averaged 50 to 60 entries per year. This year’s event generated 31 entries — a couple of which were from the same families from different places on trips.
“I think you can blame the economy to some extent,” said Jack Downs, who has coordinated the contest since it debuted in 1988.
“Since the contest began, we have seen a gradual decrease in entries. Some of that decrease may be related to the change in photo technology, with a greater proportion of images now coming from email.
“But this year, we saw a large decrease, with only about 30 entries,” Downs said.
“Changes in production at the newspaper have made it difficult to promote the contest as much as we have in the past. However, we are not going to cancel the contest. Instead, this year we will begin promoting it more often on Facebook and at pressrepublican.com.”
The geography of the vacationers was weighed heavily in European flavor, with France, Italy, Great Britain (including England, Wales and Scotland), Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany among those places visited. Other countries to the east included Iceland and Croatia. The venerable Howard and Laura Jennings of Cadyville, who have participated in the contest for years, submitted two photos from the Far East — one of Howard and one of Laura, dressed up in traditional Chinese garb — taken on their vacation to China. While they didn’t take a prize this year, they are always among the newsroom voters’ favorites.
North Country tourists visited the continents of Africa, visiting Tanzania, Kenya and Egypt. And one family — the Jim and Mary Maston family of Plattsburgh — visited Australia. The photo Maston submitted of herself, Jim and their son, Alex, was taken the last day of their 10-day family vacation in downtown Sydney overlooking the famous opera house. It was the contest winner in the random drawing category.
“Our trip to Australia was a Christmas gift from our son, Andy,” Maston said. “He was transferred to Sydney (from San Francisco) by his company, Salesforce.com, in 2007. He was being transferred back to San Francisco in February 2012, so he decided the family should see what a wonderful place Australia was.
“Our son, Tom, and his wife, Kelly, our grandchildren, Quinn, Katie and Jack, and our son, Alex, all left for Sydney Nov. 18, 2011, and we stayed for 10 days. We toured Sydney, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and Copacabana, New South Wales. This vacation was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip for us,” she said. “The fact that we were all together in Australia was the best vacation we could ask for.”
Both Wolf and Maston will receive gift certificates to an area restaurant. Downs said folks gearing up for holiday and school vacation travels should start packing their Press-Republican. The 2012-2013 contest is now open.