These miniature sturctures are part of the gingerbread town on display at Soldotna Branch of First National Bank Alaska
Photo by Joseph Robertia
The term "building community" usually brings thoughts of picnics, forums and PTA meetings to mind. Nicolena Donald's idea of building community entails pretzels, Lifesavers, gingerbread and lots of icing to hold her town together.
Donald, a pastry chef with more than 20 years experience, hones her baking skills during the holidays by making gingerbread houses.
"I always make a gingerbread town for the community wherever I live," said Nicolena Donald, a pastry chef with more than 20 years experience.
Donald's skills have taken her all over the world. She has worked making sweets in London, France, New York and most recently, on the North Slope for the last 14 years.
She recently returned to Soldotna and decided First National Bank Alaska in Soldotna would be a fitting location to display her talent this year.
"It's a fun thing, and it gets people out to see something different," she said.
The gingerbread town features 12 separate and intricately detailed structures, including a seed steepled church, a candy carousel, a barnyard with gingerbread livestock contained by a pretzel corral, and several houses with Lifesavers for roofing shingles, Sweet Tarts for siding and peppermint windows adorned to the gingerbread and icing walls.
The microcosm even has a miniature bank, complete with a drive-through and time and temperature sign.
"It took more than a month to make," Donald said.
"It's edible, too," she added.
But as tempting as the town may be, she's asking visitors especially young ones to explore with their eyes and not their hands.
Charles Weimer, senior vice president at the bank, said the town was set up last Thursday and it's already been well-received by the community.
"Everyone that comes in to fill out a withdrawal or deposit slip forgets what they're doing once they take a look at it," he said.
Weimer also said he was happy to host the creation.
"She's been a customer for a long time, and so when she asked if she could do it, we didn't hesitate to say yes," he said.
"It's the holiday season, and this gets people in the spirit. We hope to get her back every year, so we can watch the town grow," Weimer added.
Bank customer Christie Stinnett took the time to appreciate the town while tending to business the morning it was set up.
"Wow, it's really impressive that one lady could do it all. It looks like a lot of hard work," she said.
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