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By Karen Hendricks

It’s just like the classic line, “Catch me if you can,” from the children’s story The Gingerbread Man…

As the holiday season draws nearer, there are a number of opportunities to still enjoy the incredible gingerbread houses created for the 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Celebration.  A number of houses have found “prime real estate” within Gettysburg’s public places, so be sure to stop by and enjoy these fabulous creations during your holiday travels.

Your first stop might be Gettysburg’s Majestic Theater, where the largest 2011 gingerbread entry has taken up residence.  Built by Team Robinson of Hanover, this massive three-foot-high structure is on display in the main lobby, also able to be viewed through the theater’s front windows on Carlisle Street.  Two of the creators, Tony and Jennifer Robinson, explained they were inspired to create a New York City-style gingerbread entry.  So if you look closely, you will see a New York City brownstone (a perfect match for gingerbread dough), a city cathedral, Rockefeller Center, and even a rotating Christmas tree in the center to represent the big apple’s famous tree at Rockefeller Center.

This amazing gingerbread creation is only on display for a few more days, as this gingerbread gift changes hands once more.  The Majestic Theater will be drawing a name from a hat this Saturday, December 17 during the free holiday movie “The Polar Express” and one lucky movie patron will be the proud new owner.

Not only did this house win 2nd prize as determined by the Festival’s independent panel of judges, but it also won the popular vote of “People’s Choice” during the entire December 1-3 Gingerbread House Celebration.  While on display, it garnered a number of generous, silent bids from attendees.  When the dust cleared, the high bidder was Festival Trustee Edie Jardine of Fairfield.  Thanks to her generous nature, she then donated the house to the Majestic Theater so that the public could enjoy it a while longer.  Bravo!

Another award-winning house from 2011 can be found on Lincoln Square.  The 3rd place entry, created by Gettysburg Radiology Oncology staff, is on display at The Historic Gettysburg Hotel.  Modeled after a French chateau, don’t miss the intricate construction accented by adjacent colorful gardens.  Much like the aforementioned gingerbread gift, Festival Trustee Monica Oss was the high bidder on this impressive house and decided to donate it to one of Gettysburg’s most popular public buildings for continued community enjoyment.  Many families and children especially enjoyed seeing the house during the hotel’s recent “Breakfast with Santa” event.

Creating a gingerbread model of an actual structure is no small accomplishment.  But two women from Gettysburg, Donna and Teresa, set out to do just that when they created a gingerbread replica of the new Adams County Arts Council facility.  Coincidentally, the new Arts Education Center is where the 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Celebration took place.  All elements of each gingerbread house are to be edible, according to the Festival’s rules, and this entry even includes the Adams County Arts Council signage done via edible pen work.  Many thanks to Peggy Talbot of the Arts Council staff, for her high bid on this architectural gem.  Stop by the new facility, located at 125 South Washington Street, Gettysburg, where it remains on display.

If you’re still in need of Christmas stocking stuffers, i.e. “candy,” you may want to visit Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium, a few miles west of Gettysburg on Route 30.  His corporate sponsorship of the gingerbread event allowed him to choose a storybook-style entry created by a mother-daughter team, “The Hamraps” of Fairfield, PA.  Mr. Ed is proudly displaying this candy-laden house in his unique shop.

A townhouse-style gingerbread house was appropriately adopted via corporate sponsorship by Property Management Inc (PMI) of Lemoyne, PA.  This colorful “Gingerbread Bakery” was created dollhouse-style by Chelsea Walton of Hanover, who coincidentally works as a pastry chef at a major Lancaster restaurant.  PMI is spreading holiday cheer by putting the house on public display at one of its townhouse apartment complexes, Breckenridge Village, Gettysburg, with the office located on Village Drive in the area of Gettysburg Hospital.

Finally, one additional gingerbread house–a church, actually–is on public display.  This precisely-built church, created by Rebecca Colpo of Red Lion, PA was secured via high bid by a generous donor who contributed it to a Gettysburg area community, The Preserves at Cumberland Village, located off Herr’s Ridge Road.  The spire-topped gingerbread church is on display within the neighborhood’s community building.  But a group of neighborhood women also plan on taking the church “on the road” as they go caroling at area senior centers through the holidays.  We hope it travels well and spreads community cheer!

So just like “the gingerbread man,” catch these amazing creations while you can… but unlike his fellow storybook characters Hansel and Gretel, please don’t munch on these houses while leaving your breadcrumb trails through town.  Happy holidays!

P.S. You can enjoy more gingerbread photos on the Festival’s Facebook page by clicking here.

 By Beverly Grazulewicz, Festival Sweet Tooth (and Office Manager)

For the past twenty years I have driven past this hidden treasure in the woods, thinking, “Someday we should stop there and see what that place is all about.”  I am embarrassed to say that I never made that stop.  So in July, when the tragic news of a fire that destroyed this landmark hit the news, I was mad at myself for never pulling into the parking lot.  The “treasure” I am referring to is Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium.  Well, now I can say, “I’ve been there” and the one word I can use to describe the experience is “Wow.”  It is a pleasure getting to know this generous, community-minded man—the newest Gettysburg Festival Trustee to join our board.

Pulling into the icy parking lot the other night for Mr. Ed’s Sneak Peek was exciting for me, but I was also glad to have a youngster along, as co-worker Karen’s son Kyle had joined us for the evening.  You could sense his excitement too as I pointed out Mr. Ed’s historic truck that has now become part of the building.  A newly painted mural on the truck makes it appear as though it is pulling out of the building.  I could only imagine what was in the truck. 

Entering the building we were greeted by Mr. Ed himself, and he was beaming with pride.  Just six months earlier this kind man was shocked by the devastation of a lifelong business, but lucky for all of us, he brushed the ash from his clothing and said he would rebuild.  Talking with him about this period in his life is still painful, but when he starts to talk about the support he received from the community, the township and his customers, his face relights and you can the pride return.  (It was at this low period, that this generous man reached out to us to donate candy and sponsor underprivileged children at our Gingerbread House Celebration, December 2010.)

The mural made of broken elephants, surrounded beneath by mounds of classic candy

There was so much to take in on that first visit I don’t know where to start.  A massive elephant stands in the center of the room but Mr. Ed’s pride and joy is obviously the large ceramic mural near the ceiling.  At first it’s hard to identify the material, but little glimpses of broken elephants become apparent soon.  The mural was actually created from thousands of pieces of elephants almost destroyed in the fire. 

The room is filled to capacity with candy, and Kyle took it all in.  I think we read each candy wrapper in the place.  Some of the candy will bring back memories, others will make you laugh.  Bring your sweet tooth, there’s something here for everyone (and the homemade fudge is delicious). 

 So now, where are those elephants?  Take a stroll down a short hallway to a room filled (and I do say FILLED) with elephants.  Mr. Ed says he has 9,000 of them – just shy of the 10,000 he had prior to the fire (there’s about 1,000 of them in the mural).  And the elephants keep arriving – days after the fire, packages began to arrive from all over the country. 

The elephant museum!

People wanting to bring his collection backto life.  Admission to the museum is free, but donations are accepted to support local organizations like the SPCA and other non profits.  You could spend hours in this room and not see them all.   I can’t imagine there’s an elephant out there that Mr. Ed doesn’t have in his museum, but you could prove me wrong. 

So now when I am traveling to Chambersburg or points west of Gettysburg I can say, “I’ve been to Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and its amazing”.  Make a trip there soon, you won’t be disappointed.  (And by the way, my mother has a collection of giraffes in her home, probably just 100 of them, but if anyone wants to open a museum, let me know). 

Mr. Ed's very first elephant

By Karen Hendricks, PR/Marketing Director

It might not be as dramatic as Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life, but an amazing holiday story is unfolding before our eyes at the Gettysburg Festival.  It revolves around children and the true Christmas spirit of giving—what better holiday themes are there?  

The Festival’s upcoming Gingerbread House Celebration, December 3 and 4, includes a Gingerbread House Workshop where children will be able to squeeze frosting and adorn gingerbread houses with gumdrops, Necco wafers, mints, candy canes and any other candies that aren’t popped into their mouths first.  Just imagining the scene brings the phrase “like a kid in a candy store” to mind. 

With that scene in our heads during an event planning meeting, one of our most generous sponsors and supporters, Phillip Murray, General Manager of the Gettysburg Hotel, hit upon a fantastic idea.  Mr. Murray suggested we ask area businesses or individuals to sponsor underprivileged children to attend the workshop—children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to create gingerbread houses this holiday season.  In fact, he reached for his checkbook on the spot, and declared that he would sponsor the first 10 children with a check for $150.  He has challenged friends, colleagues and business leaders to do the same.  As of today, two other community leaders have stepped forward and responded—Stephanie Stephan of the James Gettys Hotel and Ed Goldwalt of Mr. Ed’s Elephant Musuem & Candy Store.  

That means 30 area children (so far) will be creating gingerbread houses, along with holiday memories, thanks to their generosity and good will.  The event is also open to the public, at the cost of $15 to cover supplies, with nearly another 30 children signed up to date.

The next step:  I reached out to a contact at a local agency serving low-income families in hopes that she could help me find 30 children, quickly.  I left her a voicemail, followed by an e-mail, explaining our holiday offer.

She returned my call within the hour, sounding out-of-breath, excited, amazed.  Her weekly program was meeting that evening, and she was struggling to finalize some holiday plans for her group, comprised of families with children.  She was going out-of-town for more than a week, beginning with the Thanksgiving holiday.  She wanted to fulfill a request the children had made only the week before, and she was surfing the internet, trying to figure out how she was going to make it happen.

You see, at the previous week’s get-together, she asked the children for ideas for a holiday activity.  What would they like to do, or make, to celebrate the holiday season?  Their answer?  Make gingerbread houses.

There was silence on the phone, probably lasting only five seconds or so, but long enough for this moment of serendipity to send a spine-tingling chill down my back.  Who would have thought that little houses made of gingerbread cookies could hold the promise of such immense joy?

Golden Tickets a la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

So this week, we are creating “golden tickets” at the Gettysburg Festival and distributing them to children served by her agency and others.  If additional sponsors step forward, I’ll be glad to make a few more calls and brighten the holidays for area children… with gingerbread.