Ten-year-old Cliff Algea wins Chattanooga Times Free Press wrapping paper design contest

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Cliff Algea, 10, with his gift wrap design at the Times Free Press on Dec. 7, 2022.
Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Cliff Algea, 10, with his gift wrap design at the Times Free Press on Dec. 7, 2022.

Ten-year-old Cliff Algea says he was doodling with a set of Twistables colored pencils and trying to come up with ideas for a holiday art contest when "a light bulb went off in my head."

That bright idea -- to draw a string of multicolored Christmas lights -- led to his win in the 2022 Lin C. Parker Wrapping Paper Design Contest.

"Christmas lights are pretty," he says, "and I wanted to do a simple pattern."

The eldest son of Roy and Crissy Algea (pronounced ALL-gee-uh) of Signal Mountain, Cliff is a fifth-grader at Thrasher Elementary. He has two younger brothers: Luke, 8, and Leo, 7.

This was his second year to enter the contest. Last year's design depicted a blue collection box and a mail carrier on his rounds for the U.S. Postal Service, rendered in precise detail.

"It was a nod to them and their hard work during the pandemic," says Crissy Algea.

Cliff says he completed the project at home -- art supplies spread across the kitchen table -- in about two hours.

"I drew a bulb I liked, then cut it out and kept tracing it," he says.

He colored the resulting collection red, green, yellow, blue and orange, and connected the bulbs with a circuit of black lines. He filled in the background with a subtle pattern of red and green shading.

Among the dozen judges -- which included representatives of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, ArtsBuild, Creative Discovery Museum and United Way of Greater Chattanooga -- Cliff's entry was deemed the favorite among more than 70 entries.

Other top vote-getters included a gathering of gnomes wearing tall pointy hats from Bryn Mitchell, 10, of Big Ridge Elementary School; a "Gnome for the Holidays" wreath from Maci Strickland, a home-schooled 9-year-old; a lineup of ornaments and Christmas trees from Parker Collins, 11, of Normal Park Museum Magnet School; a collection of Christmas icons, centered by a Christmas tree, from Syna Patel, 8, of Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts; and Santa Grogu, aka "Baby Yoda" in a Santa suit, from Chevy Michael Lewis, 8, of East Ridge Elementary. The latter entry also prevailed in readers' choice online voting.

Cliff's entry is featured on a newspaper broadsheet tucked into Sunday's print editions, with smaller versions of the runners-up on the reverse. Readers may use the prize-winning entry to wrap their holiday gifts.

"We were thrilled with the colorful, creative designs," says Alison Gerber, editor and director of content for the Times Free Press. "It's gratifying to see so many talented young artists participate in this contest."

Now in its 21st year, the contest was begun in 2002 by Lin C. Parker, a writer and page designer for the newspaper, as well as an accomplished artist. It was renamed in her honor after her death in 2017.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.

Upcoming Events