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Killington rocks ugly Christmas sweaters

Killington resident, Anne Marie Blackman, has created a somewhat unusual name for herself. Four years ago she founded the business, My Ugly Christmas Sweater, Inc., crafting and selling ugly Christmas sweaters online. This somewhat quirky niche has proven very popular. "My website received 30,000 visits yesterday," she said, Monday, Dec. 3, adding that traffic in 2012 is generally running several times higher than last year. She attributes this to growing demand nationwide for ugly Christmas sweaters. "Ugly Christmas sweater" was searched twice as much this year compared to last, Blackman said.

This past Saturday, she co-hosted a theme party with Chris Karr at The Foundry at Summit Pond in Killington, which was recently reopened after Karr bought and renovated it.

The theme, of course, was "Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater" and it was "a full house," she said. "Locals as well as people who own ski houses and visitor came by, it was a good mix of people here," she said. Saturday was also the first night that The Foundry was open to the public.

"Chris Karr and I had talked about doing an ugly sweater party last year," she said of the joint effort to host the party. "It was was a fun group of people... we're talking about perhaps making it an annual benefit event," she said, adding "There is always a lot of enthusiasm for theme parties in Killington."

Those that did not come prepared could purchase one from  Blackman at the party. Proceeds from the party benefited the charities of the Sherburne Women's Club.

The display of tacky holiday apparel was truly impressive, from sweaters and sweater vests to dresses to holiday hats and accessories-some were even garnished with lights and other 3-D objects! "I embellish ugly sweaters to make them worse," Blackman said describing her craft.

The winners for ugliest sweater were recognized in three categories: Best Sweater went to Richard Mandel; Most Creative went to DJ Dave Hoffenberg and Best Couple went to John and Janina Curtis. Winners were awarded a trophy cloaked in its own ugly sweater and a copy of the book that Blackman co-authored last year, "Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater," which features over 200 pictures of people and their pets rocking ugly Christmas sweaters.

"There are loads of Killington residents and neighbors in the book," she says, many of who were also at The party at the Foundry on Saturday. They include: Judy Storch, Scott Bigelow, Marty Mylott, Chris Bianchi, Kim Gaines, Eileen Godfrey, Sally Bridges, Mark Fiore, Ron Ottino, Nancy Mosher, Robin Leggett, Debbie Leblond, January Meyer, Kenny Budzyna, Tom Raebeck, Ellen Hawk, Jeff and Susan Hiers, Poldi and Gerald Pfeifenberger, Ken Keim, Deb and Bob Burke, Anne Marie, Jim and Colton Blackman, Ken Lee, Red and Taylor Glaze, Dominic Chiarella, Mary Hegstrom, Kim and Jason Evans, Steve Nisimblat, Otto Iannantuoni, Mark (Wishbone) Shea, Anne Mercier and family, Bret Williamson and son, Chad Aston, Carol Armstrong, Christa Moore, Rick Moore, Helen Krzyczynski, Bob Sardelli, Alan Wilson, Rick McGarry, The Crompton Family, Bill Vines, Mary Furlong, Leo Davin and teachers at Killington Elementary School.

Blackman and her ugly sweaters have appeared on The View, Fox & Friends, Good Morning America, and The ABC World News.

She co-authored the book with Brian Clark Howard, an editor and producer for National Geographic.

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Photo courtesy of Jessica Gabeler, The Foundry
Laura Howson, Katie Archer and Kat Lafferty show off their ugly sweaters at the Rock Your Ugly Sweater Party held at The Foundry, Saturday, Dec. 1.