OU Gingerbread House Decorating Contest Winners Announced

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Creativity and style gave a team from Ohio University's College of Arts and Sciences a leg–or in this case, a leg lamp–up on its competition at this year's Gingerbread House Decorating Contest.

The six-member team's tribute to the holiday classic A Christmas Story took top honors at Wednesday's seventh annual competition, hosted by Ohio University Culinary Services and held at the West 82 Food Court in Baker University Center.

Thirteen teams from throughout the University competed in this year's contest–the highest turnout to date for the event, according to Dan Pittman, assistant director of auxiliary sales.

"The Gingerbread House Decorating Contest is a wonderful event for the holiday season," Pittman said. "The occasion provides a fantastic creative outlet that often brings numerous groups from different colleges and departments together on campus. It really speaks to the fantastic diversity and team-building spirit within the Ohio University community."

For the contest, Ohio University Catering provides the teams with gingerbread, white icing and other sundry items. The teams are permitted to bring additional items, but all items featured in the entries must be edible. Culinary Services' guests and management staff judge the entries on creativity and complexity and check to make sure that all of the items used are edible.

Team College of Arts and Sciences' winning entry commemorated the 30th anniversary of the holiday film A Christmas Story. The centerpiece of the entry was the lamp shaped like a woman's leg wearing a fishnet stocking that was featured in the film. Surrounding the leg lamp were little snippets from the film, including a Red Ryder BB Gun, a bar of soap, Ralphie wearing a pink bunny outfit, and a snowman with its carrot nose stuck to a pretzel pole.

Team member Charlene Deininger, a transfer advisor in the college, came up with the idea for the winning design–despite, she said, hating A Christmas Story and being from Cleveland, where the movie was filmed.

"But everyone knows that movie and loves it, and this year marks the film's 30th anniversary," she said.

This was the second year Team Arts and Sciences entered the contest.

"We did it last year, and it was so much fun," said team member Keely Hultz, an advisor in the college. "Most of us work on different floors in our office, so we don't get to interact that much."

"This is a nice group activity, and it gets you into the spirit of the season," added team member Linda Schoeppner, an administrative associate.

The team was thrilled with its victory and planned to put its winning entry on display in the reception area of the dean's office on the second floor of Wilson Hall.

Second place in the contest went to a team from Residential Housing for its "Phase One" entry, honoring the first phase of OU's Housing Development Project. The entry featured gingerbread construction workers toiling away on the project, a crane that was lifting Kit Kats, and gummy bear pedestrians strolling the sidewalks outside of the work area. In the background was an edible version of the 79-foot-tall State Champion Virginia Pine Tree that was relocated from the work area prior to construction on the housing project commencing earlier this year.

Residential Housing's entry wasn't the only one to showcase the relocated tree.

 Third-place honors went to the University College Learning Communities Elves who dedicated their entire entry to the tree. The entry showed the tree–its root ball made of Rice Krispies treats and the green of the tree made of dyed coconut–being moved on a flatbed truck.

The Learning Communities team has been competing in the gingerbread house decorating contest since its inception and took second place in last year's bout.

"It's just fun," team member Kris Kumfer said of the competition.

This year's People's Choice Award went to Team OHIO Education Abroad for its entry commemorating the 50th anniversary of the African Studies Program at Ohio University. The entry consisted of a Gurunsi village in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, and included an acai tree made of Rice Krispies treats and uncooked spaghetti.

The team has come a long way since its first gingerbread house decorating contest seven years ago when, according to team member Catherine Marshall, their house collapsed.

"It's a fun time," Marshall, director of Education Abroad, said of the contest. "You are surrounded by sugar, people you like and holiday music. What's not to love?"

Other notable entries included:

• Team Scripps' replica of the newly opened Schoonover Center

• The Office of Institutional Equity and the School of Media Arts and Studies' joint entry, which featured a fully accessible gingerbread house

• Team University College Misfits' entry, which was a tribute to OHIO playing in the upcoming Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl

"Every year we experience new teams being formed and the contest entries becoming more elaborate," said Eve Wharton, assistant director of retail operations. "It's obvious that each team puts a lot of time, effort and pride into their creation, and it's exciting to see their early concepts and ideas become a reality."

The top three teams received gift certificates for two large, one-topping brick-oven pizzas from the West 82 Food Court.

Photos by Ohio University Culinary Services

Article republished with permission from Ohio University's Compass