Teens redefine gingerbread houses
December 29, 2008
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Security was tight Dec. 15-18 at the Fort Riley Teen Center as teams of kids worked on their own versions of gingerbread houses behind closed doors as part of an annual contest.
The highly competitive, second-annual contest involved three teams with 11 kids per team. Leading each team were two center staff members. For two hours each afternoon after school, the children would file into their respective project rooms at the center and close the door to resume their task of building the perfect gingerbread house.
"Last year it was just a staff brain storm, said Gayle Martin, Teen Center administrative assistant, of the contest. "We were playing around with ideas and said that was a good one - and we did it, and the kids loved it."
Each team door had a sign posted with the team leaders' names. Small, vertical windows on the doors were mostly covered with paper to prevent any "spies" from stealing construction ideas. Anyone wanting to enter a project room first had to knock and be recognized as someone who could be trusted.
In each room, kids crowded around a large table, adding marshmallows as building blocks or using frosting for mortar.
One team's entry resembled a gingerbread haunted house. Many colorful objects and characters were spread across the house's front yard.
"It's mostly just marshmallows and lots of frosting," said Christina Brunton, 11.
"We used some food coloring for the frosting. We used coconut for the grass and black beans for cobblestones."
Even some team members admitted the house's outdoor scene looked a bit crazy.
"We use robots, ninjas, dinosaurs, penguins and all this crazy stuff, said Brittani Ballard, 13. "We don't like the normal stuff. We're all the crazy people and we just wanted to have unique stuff. We're the only group that hasn't argued about stuff because we're just having fun."
Taylor Langley, 12, concentrated as she attached wings to marshmallow bat. She was putting finishing touches on a small Dracula figure made of marshmallows, lying on top of a coffin made of bread slices.
"I'm having a great time," Taylor said. "Fun doesn't describe this. It's awesome!"
The veil of secrecy was lifted Dec. 19, when judges carefully examined each entry near the center's reception desk. Judges were Nikki Crisman, Child and Youth Services coordinator; Lon Borjas, CYS trainer; Steve Tully, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director; and Jodi Snawder, CYS functional technology specialist.
At 4:40 p.m., Eric Childs, Youth Services director, announced contest winners were members of Team 3, also known as "Team Awesome," under the guidance of team leaders Randy Myles and Justin Vigueras. Team 3 created a holiday scene of two gingerbread buildings, a road made of candy, a red Christmas tree and a special garage for Santa's sleigh.