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Mt. Pleasant merchant's gingerbread house is people's choice again

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Barbara Denning | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
For the second straight year, first-place in the professional category went to “Gorky’s Smokin’ Grill,” created by the business's proprietor, Keith Bandy, as Owen Gall, 9, (left) and Anthony Murtland, also 9, both of Greensburg look on recently at the Mt. Pleasant VFW Post 3368.
Keith Bandy, proprietor of Gorky's Smokin' Barbecue in Mt. Pleasant, was for the second consecutive year awarded the Overall People's Choice Award for his entry into the 2013 Mt. Pleasant Gingerbread House Tour, Display and Competition.

When Keith Bandy entered the 2012 Mt. Pleasant Gingerbread House Tour, Display and Competition, he'd never before made one of the holiday creations.

That did not stop Bandy, the proprietor of Gorky's Smokin' Grill on West Main Street in the borough, from being named the competition's Overall People's Choice Award winner last year for his entry which bore the business's name.

“Last year, I bought a bunch of kits, sawed them and put all the pieces together,” Bandy said. “I entered the contest five days before the entry deadline, so there wasn't much time.”

This year, Bandy said he took a far more measured approach to crafting his house, again named after his business, for the event's 2013 installment.

“I made every single piece from templates, and they all fit together really nicely,” he said. “It took me about eight hours in four days to make.

The results were the same as Bandy was again chosen as the award's recipient.

“Keith was really thrilled winning the second time,” said Christine Barnhart, the event's coordinator. “He is a great guy, and he puts his heart into everything he does.”

Employing his trusty rolling pin, pizza cutter and pastry bags, Bandy devised a crafty creation that won even more favor with both the judges and the public at large.

“Mine is a traditional house with lots and lots of color,” he said. “It has a little bit of ‘Storybook Forest' to it, which all gingerbread houses should have. That was a lot of fun.”

Bandy said he also enjoyed sharing his creation with the community as it was on display with the others at the In Town Shops in the borough.

“It was just a lot of fun taking it up there for all the kids to see. It's good to share it with the community,” he said.

In addition to winning the people's choice award, Bandy's creation also was awarded first place in the competition's professional category for the second consecutive year.

“(Bandy) always uses his business as his inspiration and puts a lot of thought into his details,” Barnhart said.

In addition, his patrons have proven to be a strong source of support, she added.

“His customers seem really loyal, and they look forward to his creations every year,” Barnhart said. “He said he already has ideas for next year and new things that he wanted to do. I personally enjoy having him in the competition every year and look forward to seeing what he will do next.”

Gingerbread houses entered into the Mt. Pleasant Gingerbread House Tour, Display and Competition will be available for purchase and can be picked up on Friday.

Proceeds for house sales go directly to 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,

Gingerbread houses entered in the Mt. Pleasant Gingerbread House Tour, Display and Competition will be available for purchase and can be picked up on Friday at the In Town Shops at 537 W. Main St. in the borough.

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

As he did last year, Bandy said he will purchase his own house in support of the cause.

“I know the money is going to the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a good thing,” he said.

Borough Manager Jeff Landy, who works with Barnhart to carry out the competition, said Landy's creativity and support of the event's cause is “admirable.”

“Next year, it would be nice to see other businesses try to step up to the plate and challenge him,” Landy said.

Those interested in entering purchasing a gingerbread house are asked to call 412-913-4961 or email

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

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