Families flock to Caribou Rec for return of gingerbread tradition

1 year ago

CARIBOU, Maine — For the first time in three years, families gathered at the Caribou Wellness & Recreation Center for a fun night of decorating gingerbread houses.

Since the pandemic, Caribou Rec and community volunteers had packaged the houses for families to pick up and decorate at home. Though many people chose that option again this year, many more opted to spend the evening decorating at the rec center.

“Of the 279 houses built, we’ve probably given away 120 so far,” said Gary Marquis, superintendent of Caribou Parks & Recreation, at the start of Friday evening’s activities.

CARIBOU, Maine — December 2, 2022 — Lucas Grant, 7, of Caribou and his father Jason Grant decorate a gingerbread house at Caribou Wellness & Recreation Center. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

It did not take long for the rec center’s gymnasium to fill with eager families. 

Jason and Karen Grant of Caribou brought their children Emily, 4, and Lucas, 7. Emily was much more eager to eat the candy meant for her gingerbread house, but had fun just the same, Karen Grant said.

“We just moved back last year, so coming here has been a lot of fun,” she said. 

“I like decorating the house,” said Lucas, when asked what he enjoyed the most.

Nearby, Charlotte Hise, 3, and her mother Emily, of Caribou were already far along on building their gingerbread house.

“This is our first time [at this event],” Emily Hise said. “It’s great to be around other families and enjoy the decorating.”

That’s just what longtime volunteer Barb Aiken wanted to hear.

Aiken has helped put on the gingerbread event for the past 23 years. She and a group of 10 volunteers began lining up sponsors last summer and built all the gingerbread houses in advance of Friday’s event. Fifteen more volunteers joined Aiken to pass out the houses that evening.

The event could not be possible without community support, Aiken said. Farms Bakery donated the gingerbread house kits while Sleeper’s Grocery provided the frosting and candy decorations. Hannaford’s in Caribou was another sponsor.

“People tell me that this really gets the Christmas season started for them,” Aiken said. “I know it does for me.”

CARIBOU, Maine — December 2, 2022 — Karen Grant of Caribou smiles as she and her daughter Emily, 4, decorate their gingerbread house at the Caribou Wellness & Recreation Center. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)