By JOSHUA THOMAS
For the Recorder
In the middle of Ace Hardware in Palatine Bridge's Dutchtown Plaza sits a vast gingerbread village, its businesses constructed with love and confection using rows of colorful candy, sticky frosting, and enticing fondant. Its creation sponsored by the Canajoharie-Palatine Chamber of Commerce, the gingerbread village was produced by about 30 Canajoharie and Palatine Bridge business and organization owners and employees.
On November 3, the chamber delivered standard gingerbread kits to local merchants, churches excluded, although participants went above and beyond, decorating their miniature representations with all sorts of sweets.
Because this is the chamber's first attempt at creating an edible version of the connected villages, Chamber President Dolores Jackson said she was "very" surprised by the overwhelming response.
The replica of McDonald's contains miniature drive through lanes, while M.W. Roosevelt & Son, Inc. has small cars parked around the perimeter of the gingerbread building. Richardson Brands' model utilized candy locally produced in the downtown factory. The gingerbread scene even includes a candy dummy light, constructed by Sheryl Neal. Adjacent is a gingerbread NBT Bank adorned with a mini replica of the famous corner clock, which sits just across the street from a delicious-looking triangular flat-iron building.
"They just went really overboard with creativity," Jacksland said of participants.
"We tried to get everyone involved in the villages," she continued, adding, I couldn't be more complimentary to the merchants for the way they came through with this."
Richard Adams-Rhys, a miniature hobbyist who constructed the multi-level Settler's Block Antiques property for the gingerbread village, agreed, stating, "Mrs. Jacksland came up with a good idea. Anything to bring the community closer is a good thing."
Adams-Rhys spent a total of 7-8 hours over the course of a few days constructing the gingerbread building, first taking pictures of Settler's Block Antiques in an attempt to depict the business in edibles as accurately as possible.
He researched the best icing to act as glue so that the building would be sturdy, and began to create the apartment block, existing in the center of the recreation of what he called "a storybook village."
"I think that's something that people need to see a little better, and maybe the gingerbread village was a way of shedding light on it," said Adams-Rhys of the local area's picturesque quality.
Settler's Block Owner Jim Sancho was impressed not only with Adams-Rhys' effort, but with the entire display, exclaiming that the project was "kind of an amazing endeavor."
Arkell Hall Director Kim Lawrence constructed a replica Arkell Hall with the help of staff members Bonnie Boroski and Nate Dingman. "We were excited about the opportunity to show off something that represents Arkell Hall," said Lawrence, explaining that the centerpiece of the Arkell Hall replica is the recreation of the building's stone front in candy, along with the ice cream cone and candy turret.
"I thought it was wonderful," she said of the finished village, continuing, "I thought everybody was very creative." Lawrence noted that Arkell Hall Adult Home residents are schedule for a visit to the gingerbread village next week. "They're looking forward to it," said Lawrence, who noted that there'd be no hesitation from Arkell Hall if asked to participate again next year.
Jacksland said that she's not sure if the event -- aimed at showing people from out of town what the local area has to offer not only in merchandise, but in creativity and spirit -- will become an annual one, explaining that the decision will "depend on whether the merchants want to do it again or not."
The gingerbread village will remain on display at Ace Hardware through Dec. 10.