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Charly Haley, Published October 12 2012

Essay lands Fargo girl on Times Square billboard

FARGO – The thousands of people passing through Times Square in New York City on Friday got a view of Fargo when they saw 9-year-old Caleigh Gabriel’s face on an electronic billboard there.

Caleigh is a top winner in the national Team Energy Star Challenge, presented by LG Electronics USA, DoSomething.org and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, which sets efficiency standards for consumer products.

As a result, the Fargo

9-year-old’s photo was displayed on the billboard as part of Energy Star’s 20th anniversary celebration and her family received prizes from LG Electronics.

Caleigh said she was surprised to win the contest, but it made her “very, very, very, very happy.”

The contest, which ran from June through September, had children share their energy-saving stories and ideas through using Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” in writings and illustrations. There were nearly 500 contest entries.

Caleigh’s illustration and essay showed hanging clothes to dry as an alternative to using a dryer.

“(The drawing) was of The Lorax hanging clothes on a clothesline between two Truffula trees,” Caleigh said.

Caleigh’s mother, Wendy Gabriel, was also surprised at her daughter’s national win.

“Obviously I’m her mom, so I thought it was an amazing essay and illustration, but I also knew it was a national contest, so I was shocked,” Wendy Gabriel said.

The Energy Star contest entry was incorporated into Caleigh’s home school curriculum, her mother said. They originally heard about the contest through a friend.

In response to her photo being displayed on a New York City billboard Friday as part of the two-week event celebrating Energy Star, Caleigh said, “That was awesome.”

Gabriel said her daughter also won a similar, regional contest two years ago, put on by PBS.

Caleigh Gabriel is also the daughter of Christopher Gabriel, a talk show host on WDAY AM 970. WDAY, like The Forum, is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311