By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
To display a little old-fashioned Christmas cheer, Abilene community members and ACU students can decorate gingerbread houses to enter in the Abilene Downtown Association’s “Deck the House” contest.
The event is sponsored by KTAB and offers participants the chance to win the $500 grand prize.
The contest committee decided to offer cash prizes because “gingerbread houses are not cheap to make if you really get into them,” said Wilma Butman, chairperson of the committee.
KTAB donated $1,000 total, which will be dispersed among prizes in the family/group, adult, youth and child categories.
Entry forms are available at both McKay’s Bakery locations.
At the Abilene Downtown Association’s meeting on Tuesday, Butman said 500 entry forms will be dispersed among local schools.
Butman said entry fees are donated to the Center for Contemporary Arts’ ArtReach program, a non-profit outreach program.
“Not only are you participating in the contest, but you are also benefiting a non-profit,” Butman said.
ArtReach offers free weekly classes to preschoolers from Day Nursery of Abilene, Boys and Girls Club, senior citizens and Alzheimer patients and works to inspire not only a love of art, but also to social, intellectual and motor skills, according to ArtReach’s Web site at www.center-arts.com.
The contest is now in its third year, and Butman said the first year’s winner produced an elaborate beehive-themed house, complete with thousands of candy bees.
“It was just exquisite,” she said.
Participants older than 8 years old cannot use a gingerbread house kit for artistic inspiration, Butman said.
The first year had 12 to 15 entries, and last year saw less participation, Butman said.
This year, she hopes to receive 25 to 50 entries with KTAB’s support and better advertisitng.
All houses are displayed in the window of the downtown McKay’s Bakery, and Butman said she hopes one day to see every downtown store window filled with gingerbread houses.
Entry forms are due by Nov. 22, and the gingerbread houses will be brought to McKay’s on Nov. 27 to be judged immediately by the panel of three judges based on creativity, originality and visual appeal, according to the entry form.
Houses will be on display for three weeks.
Butman said she would love to see student organizations on campus enter in the group category and “get carried away” decorating a house.
“Deck the House” is part of the Downtown Association’s City Sidewalks Celebration on Nov. 28. This year’s theme is “A Christmas to Remember.”
Other events include the Christmas Lights Parade, museums, shopping, dining, entertainment, the Reindeer Run Game and the Christmas tree lighting.