Although Aldrich’s Market called off its annual gingerbread house contest due to an insufficient number of entries, a few of the entrants still showed up Jan. 6 to celebrate the fruits of their labor.
Aldrich’s owner Scott Rogers still plans to conduct the contest again in the coming year but is open to public suggestions on how to avoid this year’s outcome.
“By Saturday, we’d only received five entries,” Rogers said. “Between Saturday and Sunday, we suddenly got a few more. I’m not sure why it didn’t work out this year.”
While Rogers plans to send gift cards to all those who did enter, two groups of entrants were available that Sunday to talk about their submissions.
The students of the Port Townsend STEM Club teamed up to build a gingerbread replica of the Hastings House on Water Street, in keeping with the Water Street theme of this year’s gingerbread house contest.
Seniors Ella Ashford and Claire Jablonski worked with junior Sophia Lukin, freshman Nathaniel Ashford, eighth-grader Donna Lukin, seventh-grader Everest Ashford and sixth-grader Ayden Ratliff to map out and construct the 1890 building in miniature, even as they took the “creative liberty” of placing it closer to Adams Street Park than it is in real life.
Nathaniel said the distinctive Victorian architecture appealed to the whole team, and its proximity to Ratliff’s home pushed it over the top.
At the same time, Ella said they wanted to include Union Wharf and the Puget Sound coastline along with whimsical touches such as seagulls trying to steal a man’s meal from him, and a capsized sailing boat in the water.
“I’ve had the experience of going down in the frigid water, and it’s not pleasant,” Ella said.
Jablonski said the translucence of the water itself was simulated by mixing together frosting and gelatin, since the team’s original plan of laying gelatin over the frosting caused the frosting to dissolve.
“And we used melted sugar to glue the gingerbread together, since using frosting didn’t work,” Jablonski said.
“It was an intricate process, and Nathaniel and Claire are quite the perfectionists,” Ella said.
Ella touted the scene’s 15 people, made from a combination of fondant and marzipan, plus its 11 seagulls, four sea stars, three snowmen, two boats, one seal, one dog, one octopus and the quartet of reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh on the roof.
The STEM Club’s replica of Hastings House had five LED bulbs to complete its festive decor. Likewise, Heather Flanagan’s gingerbread recreation of the Phoenix Rising Bookstore, at the intersection of Quincy and Water streets, included a set of three stripped-down LED tea-lights to simulate the flames of a phoenix rising from the building’s roof.
Flanagan has entered the contest for the past three years, but her first entry was in 2005, with assistance from her now-18-year-old son. She’s previously replicated the landscape of Fort Worden and helped her other son with his “Hell Brute Slayer” submission, which was a gingerbread cave instead of a house.
To create the gingerbread phoenix atop Phoenix Rising, Flanagan used flat segments of gingerbread, filled in with frosting, to fashion what she compared to a “3D printed model.” She then covered it with glitter from Don’s Pharmacy and surrounded it with “flames” cut from floral bouquet wrapping provided by Safeway.
“The owner has this big puddle, so I made sure to include their dog in front of the building,” Flanagan said. “To create the cement texture of the sidewalk surrounding the building, I used coffee grounds, and for the plants along to street, I trimmed my Norfolk Island pine.”
Between researching locations on Google and mixing food coloring with frosting to get the building’s paint job just right, Flanagan said, “I watched a whole lot of Netflix while I was working on this.”
Other entries included 4-year-old Etolin Sanderson’s “Dreaming of Elevated,” Kingston Sanderson’s “Santa’s Workshop,” 12-year-old Hugh Wentzel’s “Papa’s Shop,” Karen Obermeyer and Bob Goldberg’s “Salish Sea Ginger Circle,” Annalee and Augie Brady’s gingerbread cottage, and Ray Grier’s “1885 Cannery.”