If you have a child, or if you ever were a child, then you won’t want to miss this. On Saturday, December 1, Sun Valley will unveil a Gingerbread Village that is an (almost) exact to-scale interpretation of the Sun Valley Village and beyond. Frosted eaves decorate the windows of the Ram Restaurant, the Toy Store and Brass Ranch. The Lodge pools are cerulean blue pools of melted Jolly Ranchers. The Snowball Express circles the buildings, sending up powdery snow in its wake. Everything Sun Valley will be represented, from the iconic red barn to Bald and Dollar Mountains, even the Sinclair station, in wonderful, whimsical, and delicious-smelling miniature.
Thayne Hendricks and his team (don’t call them elves) are busy, busy, busy turning what once was the Boiler Room into this holiday wonderland. An enormous 20 by 30-foot platform dominates the sparkling clean room, devoid of any vestiges of its nightclub history. Instead, buildings constructed from foam core, gingerbread and icing are finding their spot on the platform as the village quickly takes shape, from the center out.
“We start from the middle and position the buildings and all the landscaping, working out toward the edges,” Thayne explained as he prepared to journey to the center of the table to do just that.
The entire scene has been painstakingly mapped out, grid by grid. Construction is reminiscent of the childhood universes most of us built with houses, animals, castles or forts but on a much bigger scale. Thayne, a contractor by trade, helped construct in foam core, replicas of all the structures being featured. They are then sent to local baker extraordinaire, Mary Jones of the Chocolate Moose, who bakes and molds all the wonderful gingerbread, icing and piping. Back the houses come to Thayne who places them in their proper footing for the season and surrounds them with spruce trees, walkways and lampposts creating a wondrous scene.
The effect, for me, creates a desire to shrink back down to the size of a seven-year-old, to peer through the windows, look around corners and see the hundreds of exacting details at exactly eye level. From the vantage point of a child, the magic is sure to be, well, magical.
The Gingerbread Village is one of many reasons to come to Sun Valley on Saturday, and to bring the entire family. The ribbon cutting officially opening the exhibit is set for 1 p.m. and will be followed immediately by the Holiday Window Stroll Scavenger Hunt. The store windows in Sun Valley have been transformed into an interactive 3-D art gallery, featuring scenes of the holidays around the world. (For more on the windows, I refer you back to the Valley Sun entry dated November 16). Participants in the Scavenger Hunt will receive game cards at Village retail shops, the Recreation Center, the front desk at the Inn and the Lodge and the Boiler Room Deck and the hunt is on! Ten lucky grand prize winners will be announced at 4 p.m. when game cards are turned in at the Boiler Room.
And to really kick holiday spirit into high gear, a special visit by the big man himself, Santa Claus, is planned for 3 p.m. Follow his hearty ho, ho, ho’s to the deck at Bald Mountain Pizza. There will be wagon rides around the Village and some delicious seasonal treats, too.
All of this Winter Wonderland festivity is absolutely free and is the perfect prelude to the holidays. Sun Valley will be alight in the weeks to come, literally and figuratively, with the Tree Lighting Celebration, Gingerbread Decorating, the 5th Annual Classical Christmas Concert, carolers, the reopening of the newly renovated Konditorei Restaurant, all culminating in the Christmas Eve Celebration on the Sun Valley Terrace.
On Saturday, follow the sweet smell of gingerbread and the sweet smiles on children’s faces to the Boiler Room and let the season begin!