By Hannah Lester
A tantalizing amount of gingerbread is set up in the Auburn Hotel each year, but it isn’t for eating. Rather, it creates a model of Auburn’s campus and city.
The Gingerbread Village is an annual tradition that the Auburn Hotel works on for months leading up to Christmas. Each department of the hotel takes a building to create from gingerbread, and when they’re all put together — they replicate Auburn. Buildings include Samford Hall, Toomer’s Corner, Storybook Farms and more.
The departments have creative authority over the building to design how they see fit, and assignments change from year to year, said Todd Scholl, director of sales and marketing.
“As people can break away from their workday, you take a little half-hour break, ‘I need to go take a walk, I’m going to go work on the Gingerbread Village,’” Scholl said. “So everyone takes a turn. And a lot of people come in after their off-shifts sometimes because they just want to focus on it.”
The basic structure under the gingerbread remains the same, Scholl said. In fact, the structures are made of wood and were created by students and a professor, Paul Holley, with the McWhorter School of Building Science.
Normally, the hotel holds an opening event following the Auburn Christmas Parade, but that will need to look a little different this year. Instead, the village will open without a grand event, but it will still be open to the public for the holidays.
There will be socially-distanced markers on the floor to indicate six-foot distances. “So you can still get a good look at it, get pictures of it but it keeps families separate,” Scholl said. The hotel will probably announce when the village opens on social media, School said, to encourage a softer opening.
“People, when they come here for dinner, they can go check it out,” he said. “You don’t have to make a special trip here. It’s open and it’s free.”
There will be a new addition this year to the village. “This year it’s exciting because we’re adding another new building,” Scholl said. The last new addition was the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center. Now, the village will include The Ag Heritage Park Pavilion or ‘The Red Barn.’
Additionally, within the next year or two, another new building will be added: the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, which is currently under construction next to the hotel, Scholl said.
Internally, the departments hold a small contest each year to see which building is the best. The judging is completed through the Auburn Downtown Merchants Association, but guests will certainly have their own favorites.
Perhaps it will be the same as last year, or maybe the new addition to the village will take the cake (or gingerbread).