TERRE HAUTE —
Tootsie Roll chimneys and logs of red licorice adorn homes built for charity inside the Indiana Theatre this week.
The third annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest got under way Wednesday evening with 20 entrants bringing creations for judgment. Part of the Miracle on 7th Street festivities scheduled to begin Friday evening, proceeds from the contest go toward the Salvation Army, St. Ben’s Soup Kitchen, the 14th and Chestnut Community Center and Tribune-Star Christmas Basket Fund.
Organizer Boo Lloyd said this year’s move to a new site helped make for a “spectacular” display.
“And plus it being here, in the Indiana Theatre, I mean, wow,” she said.
The historic building at Seventh and Ohio streets was lit inside from one end to the other. Angels stood next to statues of Santa Claus, and lights were strung along walls. Owner Kathy Allshire said she and her husband Roger spent three days decorating.
“We always decorate for Christmas and it’s a great place for gingerbread houses, and for Christmas. We’re happy to do it,” she said.
Along with the houses were collection jars and members of the public could vote for their favorites with donations. Meanwhile, cheese, crackers and wine were provided at the concession stand, and Lloyd said the group hopes for a good turnout.
“Our goal is to raise $7,500,” she said, noting the gingerbread house contest is one of many fundraisers hosted throughout the Miracle on 7th Street festivities.
For a $25 entry fee, participants received a basic gingerbread house kit, but creativity they had to provide themselves. Lloyd’s 5-year-old great-nephews, Braden and Liam Campbell, built one on behalf of her business, Crossroads Cafe, and lined the border with Frosty the Snowman peeps, surrounding a Santa Claus Pez candy dispenser.
The same table contained entries from Christina and Charlie Newton, both students at DeVaney Elementary School.
Christina, 9, included figurines of cats and dogs around her veterinary themed house of gumdrops and pretzels.
“I think I chose it because my mom is a veterinarian and I wanted to support her,” she said, noting her mother, Janelle, works at Brown Veterinary Hospital.
Her 7-year-old brother, Charlie, transformed his “Thomas” and “Donald” trains into a railroad theme for his work.
“I used candy canes to hold up the trees so they wouldn’t fall,” he said, explaining how toothpicks held up walls supporting a roof covered in snowy coconut flakes. A Tootsie Roll chimney sported smoky whipped cream, and its creator proudly explained it was his idea from the start.
Ariane Marie King, operations director for Downtown Terre Haute, Inc., credited her board with that group’s creation, a gingerbread bird house hung from a Christmas tree.
Getting people downtown and into the local stores is one of the many benefits generated by the annual festival, she said.
“And I love the location,” she said of the Indiana Theatre.
Public viewing of the gingerbread houses will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, with the Terre Haute Children’s Choir beginning its holiday performance there at 6 p.m. A harpist will perform beginning at 8 p.m. Last year’s gingerbread contest was won by the students of McLean High School, while the inaugural event was won by Century 21. This year’s winner will be known Friday.
Lloyd encourages the public to stop by and check out the products while enjoying the music and food of Miracle on 7th Street.
“It’s free to come in, it’s free to look,” she said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.