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Harrah’s cooks into Christmas

Andy Bourelle

It is made of gingerbread, licorice, icing and candy of various shapes and sizes.

No, it’s not a cake or a big cookie.

It is a village.



More than 15 feet wide and 7 feet tall in some places, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe’s (almost) all-edible gingerbread village is in the hotel casino’s front lobby for the fifth year in a row.

“We usually start the planning stages on this the day after we take it down,” said David Goodwin, Harrah’s executive chef.



Everyone in the bake shop participates in building the village, taking countless hours of baking time and preparation. The village is made up of more than 500 pounds of sugar, thousands of eggs and about 400 pounds of candy.

Built onto the small fountain in the front lobby, the huge candy model is a fantasy mountain village, complete with houses, buildings, a ski lodge, dozens of characters and a lot of details. Many pieces move: water wheels, mountain climbers, a gingerbread carousel, marzipan ice skaters, a tram moving up the mountain and more.

“We really pay attention to detail. The more you look at it, the more you’ll find,” Goodwin said. “You could really look at this for an hour and not see it all.”

After almost a year of preparation and more than a month of cooking, it takes about three days to assemble. They put it up right before Thanksgiving; they will take it down right before New Year’s Eve.

The bake shop rebuilds it from scratch each year.

“I love to do it every year,” said Christine Baird, executive pastry chef. “I think it’s a challenge to come up with different designs. We enjoy it.”

Do Harrah’s visitors enjoy it?

“You come in here on a busy weekend – this thing is surrounded,” Goodwin said.

“It’s about the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a while,” said Harrah’s visitor Joe Stancil.

“I like the workmanship that’s gone into it.”

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