Tis the season to be jolly, that is unless you planned on participating in the 26th Annual Gingerbread House Contest at the Discover Portsmouth Center on December 2nd.
The gumdrop dropped when the Historic Development Commission unanimously denied a variance for the temporary gingerbread structures to be erected during the Holidays in the Discover Portsmouth Center.
“We never used to have to get a variance,” said Robin Albert, Welcome Center Coordinator. “But last year some residents filed a memorandum with the Attorney General and now we had to apply. We’ve been navigating the process since March. It’s a nightmare. These people are monsters. You can tell them I said that. Please tell them I said that. Someone needs to. It’s Christmas, goddamnit.”
The immensely popular gingerbread house contest has been running for twenty-six consecutive years, however the public hearing consisted of about a dozen concerned residents mostly opposed to the contest.
“First HarborCorp and now this?” asked Portsmouth Resident Paul Mannle. “You can’t just build 30 new houses downtown. Where is the traffic study? Where is the environmental impact study? Is the adhesive edible like it should be, or is it just glue? Will these things fall apart? We don’t want to discover this is just graham crackers in five years. We are all for smart development but we just don’t know the answers to these questions.”
“Look, none of us is anti-gingerbread house,” said anti-gingerbread house enthusiast Arthur Clough. “We just want them scaled back to a reasonable size and not all incorporated into one contiguous oversized winter wonderland. These gingerbread houses are big. I could not eat some of these in one sitting, and I think I should be able to. I can eat a lot. I can eat at least a standard Cape in gingerbread.”
People are encouraged to make gingerbread houses in their own homes and send pictures in to be judged, which is clearly not at all the same thing.
“Am I surprised?” asked city councilor Rebecca Perkins, rhetorically. “No I’m not surprised. Are they doing the thing where they pretend they’re not actually against a thing they are always against in a ploy to make their position seem tenable? Of course they are. You don’t even have to answer that.”
At deadline, South End residents had retained a lawyer and had launched a Kickstarter to cover their legal fees.