It's a 23-year tradition of gingerbread houses and hot jazz.
What makes Early Connections Learning Centers' Gingerbread & Jazz even more special is its setting, the breathtaking 1923 Historic Day Nursery downtown, where guests can roam the wide hallways with decades of photos covering the walls.
The Gingerbread & Jazz gala night is a time to see up close the spectacular windows and original murals along with photos of the little folks in early-education classes there during the week.
Was it someone's mansion? Not at all. It has always been for "all mothers and all children," a dedication by 14 forward-thinking women starting in 1897. It's the oldest nonprofit child-care center in Colorado and on the National Register of Historic Places.
About 300 kick-off-holiday-season guests were there Nov. 11, raising almost $90,000 for Early Connections' six early learning centers and school sites and its family child-care homes.
Sipping signature cocktails and beverages, they walked from one entertainment area to the next. Picnic Basket Catering food stations were in each location, with background music by Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors, the David Musante Trio, New Vintage Jazz and Alan Joseph.
And the Gingerbread Masterpiece Challenge didn't disappoint. Teams had two hours to decorate their creations, which were auctioned afterward.
Screams aplenty as the Picnic Basket team won the Grand Prize as well as People's Choice with a spectacular village, "Colorado Heights." Top bidder was Barbara Harris of Harris Group Realty. It will be the centerpiece at her holiday open house and then go to Early Connections' Antlers location for the children to enjoy. Top bid was $2,000.
Second-place winner was The Sugarplum Cake Shoppe's "Small Town Christmas." Icing on the Cake created "Christmas at St. Elmo's," and Sourdough Boulangerie built "A Holiday at the Bakery."
Judges were previous gingerbread competitors Michelle Asher and Debbie Downing and Gazette food writer Teresa Farney.