Kaela Hanks, contributing writer

 

 

Downtown Logan rings in the holiday season with a Christmas Parade the Saturday after Thanksgiving, where old and young alike are delighted by the arrival of Santa Claus and the unveiling of the candy windows at Bluebird Candy. The festivities draw thousands to Center Street that weekend. Another festive downtown tradition, one that lasts nearly the entire month of December, is the annual Parade of Gingerbread Homes.

From December 3 to December 31, citizens join in a friendly rivalry as they enter their magical creations into the competition that is judged by downtown visitors.

There are two general categories on display at the Parade of Gingerbread Homes: Professional (pro bakers or previous winners) and Community (open to all who are up for the challenging, creative experience). The main requirement for all entries is that their creation must be 100% edible.

Going strong for 23 years, the event has grown into a much-loved tradition by not only the architects of these gingerbread creations, but also by everyone who participates. The community gets involved by voting on their favorite edible wonderland. Next to each entry, downtown visitors can find a ballot to cast their vote. The top six entries (three in the Community category and three in Professional category) are awarded $100. This event encourages community members to explore Downtown Logan since entries are displayed at downtown businesses on, or near Main Street and Center Street.

photos courtesy of Robyn Rusch

A dedicated family who often participates in this heartwarming tradition is the Rusch family. Led by their mother, Robyn, she said they “work together with love and commitment” to enter a house into this event. In total, the Rusch family has entered seven gingerbread houses, starting in 2012. At that time, Robyn had two young boys. While looking for a creative outlet, she came upon an advertisement for a Parade of Gingerbread Houses. She immediately recruited her younger sister and began the project! They worked hard to create their Candyland-themed project. Since then, the entire family, including Robyn’s husband and kids, have participated in this event. This has become a family tradition for them, where the whole family gets involved. They work together to come up with a theme and create their new ideas together.

Avid lovers of The Great British Baking Show, the Rusch family feels like this is their very own baking episode! Every year their kids would get involved in The Nutcracker, but in 2020 it wasn’t possible due to the pandemic. Instead, the family chose to mimic the play by creating a Nutcracker-themed house. Robyn said it was a “magical way to get through the pandemic and a way to highlight the magical production when they couldn’t have it live at the theater.”

Robyn recommends this event for all as it is a, “fun family event, something that all ages enjoy, from the tiny little ones to the grandparents, families, and even college students.” She even suggests it as a great date night activity.

“There is always something magical about being in Downtown Logan during the Christmas season,” Robyn said. The Rusches will again enter a house in the competition this December. After winning multiple awards in previous years in the Community division, they’ve been bumped up to Professional level for the first time this year.

Whether you decide to enter a home into the competition, or just want to visit Downtown Logan and vote on the sweet displays, this festive activity will once again bring families and the holiday season together. It’s a tradition you won’t want to miss.

Visit logandowntown.org/parade-of-gingerbread-homes for more information.

photo courtesy of Logan Downtown Visitors Bureau