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culture shock

it takes a (gingerbread) village

Date
December 2013

Author
Allyson Marrs

Category
Culture Shock

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A little holiday spirit can go a long way—especially for those battling a serious illness this time of year. And with that exact intention in mind, the Northwest chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)—a global organization that funds Type 1 diabetes research—in conjunction with the Seattle Sheraton hotel, is hosting the annual Gingerbread Village display.

For over 20 years, local architecture firms and Sheraton culinary pros have teamed up to create some deliciously creative displays. And this year, the tradition continues. These aren’t your average cookie-cutter homes, however. No, the works of art are something straight out of a fairy tale, each with unique detail and character.

Last year catered to the theme "Once Upon a Time," and guests feasted their eyes on Belle’s castle, Ariel’s underwater home, a Brothers Grimm multifaceted fairy tale wonderland and Narnia’s Snow Queen castle, among many others.

Keeping with the fantastical, this year celebrates all things nursery rhyme. Expect to see creative takes on popular fables, and models so intricate you may forget they are technically edible (though guests are encouraged not to eat the displays).

There are six architectural firms that partner with Sheraton pastry chefs each year for the event. "The architects have such an incredible experience working with pastry chefs, as well as the families and kids living with Type 1 diabetes, that they want to do it year after year," says Matt Degooyer, associate executive director of JDRF’s Northwest chapter.

The entry into Gingerbread Village is free, but a $5 donation per person is encouraged, and 100 percent of all donations directly benefit JDRF and its mission to find a cure for diabetes through its research. JDRF also has the option for visitors to text "JDRF" to 20222 to send a $10 text donation, or by visiting gingerbreadvillage.org.

The organization spends 80 percent of its funding on supporting research and education. Type 1 diabetes affects every organ system; it is an autoimmune disease that prevents a person’s pancreas from producing insulin. It can also have destructive effects in the form of kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, heart attack and more.

For those wondering why a village made of sugar is used to fund diabetes research, JDRF has this to say, "Making gingerbread houses has long been a tradition in Americans’ holiday celebrations, and what better way to help draw attention to the fact that sugar is not all bad—that it does not cause diabetes—than by putting on the grandest holiday display in Seattle?" Plus, the houses are never eaten. They are eventually dismantled and disposed of.

➸ The six-week display is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week from Nov. 25, 2013 – Jan. 1, 2014. To learn more about this year’s event, visit gingerbreadvillage.org, and to learn more about JDRF’s Northwest chapter, visit northwest.jdrf.org.

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