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The Grimm Brothers had nothing on Kendal retirement community when it came to gingerbread houses. The results of the annual cooking-decorating competition at the entrance to the Kendal's main dining room created excitement and admiration among residents as the exquisite works of culinary art greeted them at dinner.

The Grimm Brothers traveled through Europe collecting tales of fantasy and adventure. It was in Germany where they discovered the story of two abandoned children named Hansel and Gretel who found their way to a house made of gingerbread and candies. America may not have the history, but what it does have is a huge melting pot collection of gingerbread recipes with many variations in taste, form and presentation.

These different variations were prominently displayed at Kendal this Christmas season. On Dec. 2, staff and their family members participated in a gingerbread house contest. In the newly expanded and refurbished coffee shop/kitchen area in the main building, contestants gathered around and started construction on their sweet masterpieces. After four hours of careful and belly-rumbling work, the kitchen was clean and the small village of houses complete.

The next day residents and staff members were invited to vote on their favorite house. Jean Martin, the head kitchen supervisor, was on hand for the construction of the houses, and she tallied the votes. "We could never not have the competition; it's something the residents have come to look forward to as tradition," she said.

The votes came in, filling the ballot box numerous times, from Dec. 3 to Dec 10. The true favorite was Samantha Roark's pretzel log cabin gingerbread house, with second and third place going to Timmy Roark and Summer Warrick respectively. Samantha, 17, and Timmy, 16, are the children of the resident baker at Kendal, Lisa Roark, proving, perhaps, that the apples don't fall far from the tree, or in this case, the gum drops.

First prize received $100, second place $50, and third $25.

Other contestants included J. Nulty, D. Farrugia, C. Anderson, T. Burgos, S. Kurry, and D. Rodregiez.

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