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Gingerbread Man

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Roger Pelcher, director of food and beverage at Harrah's Tunica, comes from gingerbread-house-making stock. His grandfather and father, both chefs, used to make them. When his father worked for Neiman Marcus, he would spend the year creating gingerbread gas stations, grocery stores, fire stations, etc. Then when the holidays rolled around, he would assemble the village for a store display.

Pelcher built his first gingerbread house at 7 or 8. Decades later, in 2001, he built a 57-foot gingerbread house in the Wolfchase Galleria. In 2006, he topped himself and set a world record for a 67-foot house at the Mall of America. Pelcher describes that house as sort of a Willy Wonka Factory. Guests could go inside. There was an oven and a stove. "I swore that was my very last project," Pelcher says.

So far, Pelcher has kept his word. But this Sunday and next, he's dipping a toe back in with a meet-and-greet at Gingerbread Corner, which is part of Starry Night's Mistletoe Village at Shelby Farms.

Mistletoe Village is a new feature of Starry Night's annual holiday-lights display. Located at the Woodland Discovery Playground, the kid-centric village includes pictures with Santa, a cafe with cocoa for sale and fire pits for making s'mores, and a gift store with items created by local artists. Gingerbread Corner, where kids decorate gingerbread men, is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. During the meet-and-greet, Pelcher will answer questions and give pointers on decorating the gingerbread men.

It isn't a stretch to imagine that some cookies will be consumed on-site. Eating was never part of a gingerbread-house project, Pelcher says. That 67-foot house had drywall, and many of the normal-sized houses are shellacked to help them last. Those without are generally too dry to consume after the holidays. "You don't want to eat it," Pelcher says.

Roger Pelcher Meet-and-Greet at Mistletoe Village, 1-5 p.m., Sunday, December 4th and 11th. The $3 cost includes a gingerbread-man kit.

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