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Irwin cookie tour treats are labor of love

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, 6:57 p.m.

What's a person to do with 130 pounds of flour?

If you're Caroline Lewis, owner of Cheesecake Caffe in Irwin, you and a few Girl Scout helpers spend about 45 hours spread over a week making 360 dozen mini cookies for Irwin's annual Christmas Cookie Tour, held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday in downtown Irwin.

Lewis was making 16 different varieties of the cookies this week – including perfect M&M cookies, strawberry milkshake, blueberry muffin, chocolate chip, shortbread and sugar cookies – that will be available in participating businesses. About seven other stores are making their own cookies. Each of the participating merchants will have a different kind of cookie to give to customers on Friday, Lewis said.

The North Huntingdon resident said making the cookies is a lot of work, but she enjoys it.

“You want to be active in your community and give back,” Lewis said. “You want to go the extra step and show you care.”

She and Margaret “Peggy” Nicholes, leader of the Girl Scout Troop 22085 of North Huntingdon, were busy this week filling trays with 42 dozen unbaked mini M&M cookie dough balls.

Nicholes, who heads a senior ambassador troop, said the girls like making the cookies.

“The girls came and helped to make the dough. They feel like they are part of it,” Nicholes said as her daughter, Victoria, and a friend, Hannah Bergman, were making dough for 20 dozen lemon crinkle cookies.

The annual Irwin Christmas Cookie Tour, which began in 2006, features horse-drawn carriage rides as well as Christmas carolers, said Lois Woleslagle, president of the Irwin Business & Professional Association, which sponsors the tour.

The idea for the tour came from Debbie Kelly, an Irwin councilwoman who had seen a similar event in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, Woleslagle said.

“It brings people into town. It creates a nice feeling in the community. Maybe they'll (visitors) come back into town,” said Woleslagle, owner of Interiors By Woleslagle.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or

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