Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Carver has hand in decorating White House's Christmas tree


Name: Vincent Giannetto III
Age: 59
Residence: Edgewater Park
Occupation: Woodcarver

Vincent Giannetto III of Edgewater Park holds a woodcarving similar to the one he made after receiving an invitation from First Lady Laura Bush to contribute an ornament for a Christmas tree in the White House.

By Josh Bernstein
BCT staff writer

EDGEWATER PARK - A Christmas tree at the White House will feature the handiwork of a Burlington County craftsman.

Vincent Giannetto III of Edgewater Park fulfilled an invitation from the office of First Lady Laura Bush to contribute an ornament for a tree that will go in the Blue Room of the presidential mansion.

"I think you'd really have to hate the Bushes to say, 'No, I'm not going to do it,' " Giannetto said as he stood inside his sawdust-filled workshop off Delanco Road.

The theme of the holiday is "all creatures great and small," according to a letter from the White House. Giannetto, 59, carved an ornament depicting three baby mallard ducks. He titled it "Anew."

"In deciding what to make, should I go with an eagle or the state bird? But that wasn't me," he said. "I should pick something that represents me."

Giannetto and his wife will attend a reception at the White House to celebrate his contribution to the presidential tree. After hanging from the tree, "Anew" will join the White House's ornament collection.

The son of a building contractor, Giannetto began hunting with his father as a teenager. Giannetto's father would not pay for decoys, so Giannetto taught himself how to carve his own.

In 1967, Giannetto attended his first show dedicated to decoys in Babylon, N.Y. The next year, he entered two decoys and won two ribbons. By 1969, he had honed his skills enough to win awards in shows throughout the eastern United States.

"When I found somebody who would give me money for it, it was great," he said. "It worked out well that way."

For most of his life, Giannetto limited his woodworking to a hobby. For 11 years, he operated a small masonry business in Edgewater Park. About 20 years ago, however, he decided to devote all of his time to carving.

"It's one of those passions," he said. "I think everyone would like to make a living from his hobby. ... This beats pushing concrete. If you're a golfer, I'm sure you'd like to be a professional golfer. When I gave up the masonry business, I didn't throw my trowel away. Luckily, I didn't have to do that."

Since then, he has expanded his line of products to include children's rockers, Santas, ducklings, dogs, penguins and other birds. All of his carvings are from white cedar.

Giannetto sells the work at wholesale trade shows and maintains a Web site,

"Anything that's country, my stuff fits," he said. "I probably sell to more stores in Texas than any other state. I'm not sure why."

As with most retail-related businesses, this time of year is the most hectic for Giannetto.

"From September to Christmas is probably 75 percent of my work," he said. "The rest of the time you're doing what you can do."