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Mt. Pleasant gingerbread house tour, display and competition is back

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Christine Barnhart | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Keith Bandy, proprietor of Gorky's Smokin Grill in Mt. Pleasant, earned the People's Choice Award of the inaugural Mt. Pleasant Borough Gingerbread House Tour Display & Competition with his entry titled 'Gorky's Gingerbread House.'
Barbara Denning | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Norvelt's Samantha Eyth (far right), won the 2012 Dream House Award in the inaugural Mt. Pleasant Borough Gingerbread House Tour Display & Competition for her creation, 'Welcome To Gingerbread Land.' She appears with (from left) Jeff Landy, Mt. Pleasant Borough manager; Nadia Speney, marketing supervisor of O'Rourke Cut Glass & Gifts, which donated the award; and Christine Barnhart, who with Landy co-coordinated the event.

Christine Barnhart said it's time to start “thinking gingerbread” again in Mt. Pleasant.

Entries for the second Mt. Pleasant Gingerbread House Tour Display and Competition — which Barnhart, an East Huntingdon resident, is coordinating — are due Wednesday.

“I need people to bake them, make them, and I need people to buy them,” said Barnhart with a slight giggle befitting the merriment of the upcoming holiday season.

Based on last year's turnout for the event's inaugural installment, Barnhart said she is hopeful for even more success this year.

“Just the amount of people that came out the first year, I was surprised,” said Barnhart of the 28 entrants who took part in 2012. “This year, I'm hoping for 28 or even more.”

All houses will be on display from Nov. 18 through Dec. 20 at a central location — the In Town Shops, located at 537 W. Main St. in the borough.

“I think it will make a better display, like a village, and people will find it easier to see,” Barnhart said.

The categories for entrants are as follows: family; elementary (grades 2-5); middle school (grades 6-8); high school (grades 9-12); adult; culinary student; and professional.

Three judges will be selected to judge each category.

Guidelines for judgment include creativity/originality; overall appearance and appeal; difficulty; and precision/neatness.

A gingerbread house made by Barnhart is on display at the Hallmark store at Summit Ridge Plaza in East Huntingdon, she said.

Awards will be given for first, second and third place for each category listed on the entry form.

An Overall People's Choice Award will be presented and determined by members of the community who visit the display and submit a ballot. Ballot boxes will be placed at the In Town Shops, at the Levin Furniture's main store and at the Levin Furniture clearance facility in the borough.

An overall “Dream House” award will be given to the best overall display.

The Dream House will be displayed at the main store of Levin Furniture, one of the event's sponsors, along Main Street, Barnhart said.

“That's just an honor for us to have it at our location, anything to bring the town together, and just endorse the holidays is a really great feature for us,” said Dee Henry, a Levin saleswoman and window designer. “Hopefully, they'll have a lot of entries, it was great addition to the town last year.”

Contest judging will take place on Nov. 16 at the Mt. Pleasant VFW Post 3368, the event's other sponsor.

On that date, houses can be dropped off at the VFW until noon, when doors will close for judging.

Doors there will open again for an open house from 5-7 p.m.

“I would like to encourage people to come in and see them. There will be cookies made by the VFW ladies auxiliary and hot chocolate for people to enjoy,” Barnhart said.

The Overall People's Choice Award will be disclosed on Dec. 7 during the borough's Christmas Parade.

The winners of each category will be notified by mail and a ribbon will be placed on their creation while on display.

Gingerbread houses entered into the competition will be available for purchase and can be picked up on Dec. 20.

Some houses will be removed from the display before that date if they deteriorate.

Gingerbread houses can be constructed of any safe-to-eat material; however, the houses are not recommended for edible consumption.

Those interested in entering the competition are asked to call 412-913-4961 or email

Registration forms, along with rules and regulations, are also available at the borough building at 1 Etze Ave.

Proceeds from the event benefit local veterans and the Wounded Warrior Project, a Florida-based, nonprofit organization.

The project, founded by wounded Vietnam War veteran John Melia, strives to raise public awareness and enlist the public's aid in meeting the needs of severely injured service men and women as they transition from active duty back to civilian life, according to the project's website,

Last year, the event raised $150 for the project.

Independent donations will be accepted for the project and local veterans at the borough building.

Borough Manager Jeff Landy is once again aiding Barnhart in coordinating the gingerbread house event.

“I think the Gingerbread House Tour is one of the best holiday promotions and fundraisers we've ever done,” Landy said. “It's really a way to get groups and families together for a nice effort, whether they're baking the houses or decorating them.”

He agreed with Barnhart that the central location on Main Street will likely enhance viewer appeal.

“It's a chance for people to see them all together, right there on Main Street, and that's another nice thing,” Landy said.

The focus of event proceeds on local veterans, in addition to the Wounded Warrior Project, is an important new wrinkle added to the event, he said.

“There are a lot of different programs designed to aid the Wounded Warrior Project, and that's a good thing, but we wanted to make sure if there is anything we can do to aid local veterans, we can do that, too,” he said.

To help further promote the event, Barnhart said she plans to ride with her daughter, Olivia, and her daughter's friends, Scarlett Davidovich and Maddie Gall, in the parade.

“My daughter and her friends are going to be dressed as gingerbread people,” she said, again laughing.

For more information, visit the borough website at

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

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