Gingerbread house creators help build homes for families

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Wafting aromas of cinnamon, evergreens and ginger lure visitors to the gingerbread house competition tucked away in a far corner of the 29th annual Boston Christmas Festival at the World Trade Center.

For over 25 years, the gingerbread competition has enthralled children of all ages with the intricately decorated edible structures. The event continues Saturday and Sunday.

“Usually the same people show up every year,” said Angela Pettersen, chef at the Café Escadrille and a competitor for the past six years.

For Brianna Ficaro, a freshman at Marblehead High School, making gingerbread houses is as important as her studies. Working late into the night for two weeks, she built a Victorian-style gingerbread house.

“I always wanted to become a chef or a baker since I was very young,” she said.

This year, the kid’s choice award went to Ginger Betty’s depiction of a Charlie Brown Christmas. The best in show went to a display of the Grinch’s winter wonderland by Cupcake City.

After the prizes are handed out, the baked and frosted creations are raffled off or sold online, with some fetching as much as $500 or $1,000. Proceeds go to Housing Families, a nonprofit group that provides shelter for 170 families in greater Boston.

“What the chefs have done to create these beautiful designs and houses helps fundraising,” said Jim Goebelbecker, chief executive of the organization.

“It’s the symbolism of the houses,” said Patty Kelly, the organization’s community outreach coordinator. “Every child deserves a home.”