In January, one of Tacoma's most beloved family-oriented nonprofits, the Children's Museum of Tacoma (CMOT), will celebrate the opening of a bigger and more up-to-date space for community kids to play with. Located inside the United Way of Pierce County's downtown Tacoma building, on South 15th Street and Pacific Avenue, the CMOT's new digs will inspire families to grow and interact through play and community involvement.
Besides the CMOT's annual fundraisers, such as the Playing Under the Stars dinner auction and the Power of Play luncheon, CMOT is responsible for a gratuitous amount of community outreach programs, which bring learning through play to those who may not be able to make it to the museum, or even know it's available.
One of the Children's Museum of Tacoma's most popular events, the annual Gingerbread Jamboree, accomplishes both a tiny bit of fundraising and a massive amount of community outreach.
Gingerbread Jamboree began its journey back in 1994 as "Gingerbread Lane." Brenda Morrison, director of Communications and Operations at the Children's Museum of Tacoma, lays out the event's history:
"Gingerbread Lane was an annual CMOT event held at the (then) Sheraton Tacoma Hotel. Gingerbread Lane featured gingerbread houses designed and built by architects, businesses and community families and the houses were sold as a fundraiser for the museum," she tells me.
"In 1997 the Museum changed the format of the gingerbread holiday event to the Gingerbread Jamboree, where any child and their family could come to the event and create their own little house to take home with them and enjoy throughout the holiday season," Morrison continues. "There were about 30 families when we first started and we used one little section of the Sheraton's ballroom."
Almost 20 years after its creation, Gingerbread Jamboree sells out 600 spots over four sessions that create roughly 150 houses - crowding the Bicentennial Pavilion behind the Hotel Murano for a full weekend.
Like clockwork, families reserve a spot early for what has become one of the most popular gingerbread decorating events in the area. For $36 per house, Gingerbread Jamboree attendees receive a pre-built gingerbread house and access to a very large candy buffet, enabling them to build the sweetest cabin they've ever sunk their teeth into ... or at least displayed in their living room until Santa's reindeer eats it on Christmas Eve while the kids are sleeping. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)
People who started attending this event as children and are now adults have created family traditions involving Gingerbread Jamboree - attending yearly with loving enthusiasm and proving you're never too old to get your Gingie on.
Frosting is provided along with holiday music, entertainment, snacks, coffee and hot chocolate. Santa hats are optional, but jolly merriment is always mandatory.
Nov. 26-27, 10 a.m. and 1:30 pm both days
To reserve your gingerbread house call 253.627.6031 or visit childrensmuseumoftacoma.org