Almost every bit of pastry chef Michele Mitchell’s gingerbread fire station is edible — even the fireman sliding down the pole on his way to a call.
Mitchell, who was the Hotel du Pont’s executive pastry chef before leaving to form her own company, settled on a fire station as the centerpiece of this year’s Hagley Museum and LIbrary’s third annual gingerbread house competition.
It has a theme of Hometown Heroes and has drawn 50 entries.
“I really thought of our first responders, the firemen, the paramedics, the ambulance and rescue people, and the state troopers,” she said.
She chose the Goodwill Fire Co. 1919 station in New Castle as a model and added a bell tower in a nod to the historical stations that needed one to call in volunteer fire fighters.
Mitchell delivered her culinary labor of love right before Thanksgiving to Hagley’s Millwright Shop, which has been cleverly decked out as a life-size gingerbread house itself.
The gingerbread fire station includes three firetrucks, a Delaware State Trooper’s car, a police car and an ambulance, all made from gingerbread and covered in fondant icing. The floor of the garage is a white-and-black checkerboard pattern.
One reason Michelle chose the fire station is that her husband Chuck Lewis’s stepfather Ed Hitchens was a volunteer firefighter.
The trooper car also has the number of Capt. Jeffrey Whitmarsh, who was the best man at Mitchell’s wedding to Lewis, who runs Buckley’s Tavern.
Mitchell said it took her about two weeks to bake, build and decorate the fire station, complete with poured sugar windows.
The only parts that are not edible, she said, are the flagpoles and four plastic pillars holding up the station’s flat roof.
Her creation will rest in a place of honor inside the lobby of the Millwright building, framed by holiday greenery in front of a window that looks out to the tree-lined banks of the Brandywine River.
Hagley’s gingerbread contest will be on display now through Jan. 3, with entrance times staggered so visitors can maintain social distancing on a one-way flow of traffic.
A guest panel of judges will award first-place prizes in the adult/family and youth categories on Wednesday, Dec. 2 from nearly 50 entries
Visitors may cast their vote in a People’s Choice Award held on Hagley’s Facebook page until Jan. 3.
The museum at 200 Hagley Creek Road in Wilmington is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but closed Christmas Day and will close at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Admission is $9 for adults; $5 for children age 6 and older. Save $1 by purchasing tickets in advance online.