Church Jump Starts the Holiday Spirit with Iconic Gingerbread House

Top Quote The Fort Harrison chefs light a spark for the spirit of the holidays with their annual gingerbread interpretation of the Church of Scientology's iconic religious retreat in Clearwater. End Quote
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL (1888PressRelease) December 04, 2015 - Weighing in at nearly 500 pounds, the annual Fort Harrison gingerbread house was completed this week by the Chefs at one of downtown Clearwater's most historic properties. The gingerbread house is a replica of the Fort Harrison, down to the round window on the 4th floor and the portico over the back entrance.

    Owned by the Church of Scientology, Flag Service Organization, the Fort Harrison serves as the Church's religious retreat. Parishioners come from more than 70 countries around the world to celebrate the holiday season here in Clearwater.

    To add to the spirit of the season, the Chefs of the Fort Harrison have been creating a replica of the building in gingerbread for the past 6 years.

    "This year, I wanted the house and the village around it look like a European mountain village," said Fort Harrison Executive Chef Mike Thames. "The gingerbread is darker, with a lot of detail to the decorations."

    Chef Mike said that 250 pounds of gingerbread was used - including 300 gingerbread shingles to tile the roof. "It took 150 pounds of icing to hold the house together and attach the 80 pounds of candy we used to decorate the house," he added.

    The first known recipe for gingerbread was from Greece in 2400 BC. Queen Elizabeth I is generally credited with using icing and gold leaf to decorate the cookie, creating gingerbread men who looked like visiting dignitaries. The idea of creating houses out of gingerbread became popular in the early 1800's, when the Brothers Grimm published "Hansel and Gretel."

    But the Fort Harrison gingerbread house is in a category of its own, possibly the largest of its kind in Pinellas County. The gingerbread house will be on display in the Fort Harrison until the first of the year.

    For more information about upcoming holiday events sponsored by the Church of Scientology, please call 727-467-6860.

    About the Church of Scientology:
    The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 nations. The Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs, such as anti-drug campaigns, human rights campaigns and global education programs. To learn more, visit

    Since its construction in 1927, the Fort Harrison has been the home to many charitable organizations. Its latest owner, the Church of Scientology, completed a top to bottom restoration of the Fort Harrison in 2009-and since then has hosted over 300 community events there.

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