This year’s project is inspired by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Spencer and Templar took their children to the circus this year when it came through Chicago and that served as the seed of the idea for our annual gingerbread project. We started with the traditional three rings and then contemplated how to include some vertical elements into the display: a high wire act, a big top, something up. After some consideration we decided that a tightrope extended across the rings might just work — if we could successfully build some sort of support. This year we did it.

Gingerbread Circus

For years, we have unsuccessfully attempted to build circular towers out of gingerbread. Gingerbread is not the strongest of building materials. Our attempts at circular towers have fallen upon a series of results filled with failure and despair. This year Spencer struck upon the idea of baking the towers around a paper towel roll protected by some parchment paper. We baked the towers for twice as long as we baked other elements of the construction, rotating them throughout the baking process and the cooling process to help them retain their shapes. The towers were a little uneven around the base, as the bases were not square. But it was nothing we could not correct with some shims made from candy and a healthy application of icing as mortar.

Purple Pony Tightrope WalkerWith that problem solved we were able to buttress the towers with gumdrops and icing to give them stability and began attacking the issue of the tightrope. Templar fashioned a rope out of Twizzlers and we managed to secure it to the towers once we added the platforms. We had the stage for our own high wire act so we went about designing the various acts.

None of our gingerbread creations have ever suffered for a lack of bizarre visualization and elements. This year was no different, and included more than a few references back to earlier gingerbread projects, particularly the year of the zoo. As a result, our gingerbread circus acts included some standards and some (shall we say) adaptations on a theme:

But the spotlight obviously was focussed on the tightrope. And we needed a tightrope walker. Danaan provided. Our tightrope walker was something you won’t see at that other circus when it comes through your town. No, our tightrope walker was a purple pony!

A purple pony! Top that, Cirque du Soleil.