Gingerbread Jimmi creator honored to host 11th annual competition
What: Gingerbread Jimmi House Competition
When: 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2
Where: Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave.
J.R. Holbrook, creator of Gingerbread Jimmi and author of “Gingerbread Jimmi: The Magical Storybook,” loves the magic of the holiday season.
Part of the magic, the Park City-based author says, is having the opportunity to host the annual Gingerbread Jimmi House Competition at the Park City Library. The event, in its 11th year, will be held on Monday, Dec. 2.
“It’s so exciting for me to do this,” Holbrook said. “It becomes more and more fun every year, I think.”
Children, ages 5 to 12, can drop off their gingerbread building from 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29, to 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2. Application forms are available at the Park City Library’s front desk, 1255 Park Ave., or on the library’s website, parkcitylibrary.org. Registration is free.
Judges will assess each building from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. before naming the winners, Holbrook said.
The judging will be divided into two categories – child, ages 5-8, and youth, ages 9-12, according to Holbrook.
The first-place winner in the child category will receive $75. Second place wins $50, and third place gets $25. The winner in the youth category will get $100, with $75 and $50 going to second and third place, respectively, he said.
The gingerbread buildings will then go on display at the Park City Library until Jan. 1, and photographer Tricia Abegglen will take portraits of the kids and their creations, Holbrook said.
“It’s so fun to see kids bring their families and friends in to see their houses, and that’s great for them because they are coming to the beautiful library,” he said.
Santa and Gingerbread Jimmi will be present at the library to host activities while the judges deliberate.
“First, we’ll welcome the children and invite them to sing the first verse of the ‘Gingerbread Jimmi Magical Theme’ song,” he said. “It’s neat to see these kids come up and sing, because I’ve had parents come up and tell me they couldn’t believe their super-shy child would even think of standing in front of an audience to sing a song.”
The kids will get to pull a gift out of Santa’s gift bag after the first song, according to Holbrook.
Once the kids get settled, Holbrook’s father, known as Grandpa Ron Holbrook, will read the “Gingerbread Jimmi: The Magical Story.”
“This will be an interactive story, because we have two other songs that the kids will sing when they come up in the story,” Holbrook said.
The first song is “SnowflakeSnow — Winter Anthem,” which made its premier last year, and the new song is called “Run Me, Run 2,” which corresponds with the book’s chase sequence, Holbrook said.
“Run Me, Run 2” was written by Josh Sohn, who also wrote SnowflakeSnow.
“I’m so glad I got to work with Josh again,” Holbrook said. “The music in this new song just builds and then crashes into the singing and goes and goes and goes until boom, it ends.”
Grant Westcott, a 10-year-old actor and singer from Salt Lake City, recorded “Run Me, Run 2.”
“This kid had the most amazing enunciation,” Holbrook said. “When we were recording at Counterpoint Studios, his singing was crisp and perfect. And we even had to tell him to make it not so perfect.”
The Gingerbread Jimmi House Competition was inspired by the National Gingerbread House Competition held annually at the Grove Park Inn Resort in Asheville, North Carolina.
“Grove Park actually contacted me when my book was published in 2004, and I thought it would be great if could have a gingerbread-house contest here,” Holbrook said.
Four years later, the Park City Library presented the first Gingerbread Jimmi House Competition in the basement of the old building, with Heather Reynolds, the library’s youth services librarian at the time.
“Ms. Reynolds didn’t think we would have enough to fill the area, but we did,” Holbrook said. “We had five entries.”
Reynolds recruited some high-profile judges that year.
“We had then Mayor Dana Williams and Police Chief Wade Carpenter to judge these amazing creations,” Holbrook said. “One kid made a replica of the Park City Library.”
Today, the Gingerbread Jimmi House Competition judges look at close to 75 entries, according to Holbrook.
“What’s fun for us is that we don’t know what the kids are going to come up with,” he said. “We had entries that range from the very cute and simple to the most elaborate houses. One year, we had entries that included a small-scale replica of the Park City Museum’s bell tower, and all kinds of amazing things. These kids must have watched the Food Channel.”
Seeing the Gingerbread Jimmi House Competition continue throughout the years is the best Christmas present, Holbrook said.
“Gingerbread Jimmi is like my baby, and I love how we can give back to the community with this competition,” he said. “We just want kids to come get into the holiday spirit, sing some songs and then leave with a little gift. I hope the competition continues for at least another 11 years.”
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