Stacy Hall at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos will be transformed into a “Gingerbread Wonderland” when dozens of colorful holiday houses decorated by local school children, families, organizations and businesses will be on display from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
The annual event is a benefit for St. Mark’s Preschool and Arts Outreach, which provides education and experiences in the visual, literary, performing and musical arts for students in the Santa Ynez Valley and Sisquoc.
“Over the past seven years, we have seen a lot of amazing gingerbread creations — the Polar Express, London’s Tower Bridge, Hogwarts School, an Advent Calendar, a cuckoo clock, White House and Mattei’s Tavern. We can’t wait to see what this year will bring,” said Yvonne Lowe, preschool director.
“One of the schools did the Emerald City from the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ and we had a house from the movie, ‘Up!’ “
Each year there are about 80 to 100 houses that come from elementary schools like Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Oak Valley; organizations like the Elks Club; and law firms like Jarrette and Walmsley.
“Some decorate basic kits that we provide, and some bake their own gingerbread or have them made at Solvang Bakery,” said Ms. Lowe.
“Funds are raised from the $1 raffle tickets that are sold at the event. People place them in jars in front of each gingerbread house, and when we close, Sandie Mullin, Arts Outreach executive director, and I pull out the winning raffle ticket from each jar. We notify the winners that they can pick up their gingerbread houses the next day.”
Visitors can also bid on special houses in the silent auction that has five entry categories: Child, 8 years and under; Youth, 9 to 12 years; Teen, 13 to 19; Adult, over 19; Best in Family; and Best in Business.
Santa Claus will be available for photographs with children in the church’s common room, and they can make their own Christmas ornaments and crafts in the church courtyard, where complimentary coffee and hot apple cider will be served, and food and baked goods will be available for purchase.
Diane Byington and her Solvang Conservatory students accompanied by St. Mark’s music director Beverly Staples will provide seasonal music along with performances by Valley Glee.
“ ‘Gingerbread Wonderland is like a huge holiday party that people of all ages can simply come and enjoy, see their friends and meet new ones, all without sending invitations or having to clean up!” said the Rev. Randall Ray, rector of St. Mark’s. “In an era that is too time pressured and too isolating, it is a delight to see our community come together for the simple joy of conversation, sharing food and drink and enjoying the wildly whimsical creativity that comes from creating with gingerbread and candy.”
If you go
“Gingerbread Wonderland” will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church, 2901 Nojoqui Ave. in Los Olivos. Admission is free. For more information, call Yvonne Lowe at 805-688-1815, Sandie Mullin at 805-688-9533 or visit www.smity.org/gingerbread-wonderland.html.