Candy and icing and gingerbread … Oh my!

Muse Elementary students decorate gingerbread houses during field trip

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Children with sticky fingers, icing on their ears and in their hair, placed handfuls of candy onto a gingerbread house covered in meringue icing.

While one handful of candy is placed on the house, another hand sneaks a few pieces to munch. Alanna Bevan, 5, clapped her hands, licked her lips and declared her candy-coated house finished.

Bevan and about 50 other Muse Elementary kindergarten students took their first field trip to the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe Thursday, where they decorated gingerbread houses to take home and made others in small groups that are displayed in the hotel.

The hotel has hosted the field trip for a Canon-McMillan School District kindergarten class since it opened in 2001.

Hilton Garden Inn general manager Paul Bazzano said he and the staff look forward to it every year.

Staff members also created gingerbread homes for a chance to win prizes – the grand prize being two days’ paid vacation and an overnight stay at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. The students’ gingerbread homes will join the staff’s creations on display in the lobby. After they finished decorating, students were treated to lunch and a tour of the kitchen.

“It’s very gratifying and fun,” Bazzano said. “It really is a memory that will last a lifetime for them.”

Bazzano became a hero to 5-year-old Arena Morrison when he repaired the damaged roof of her house. Dressed in his black suit, he kneeled beside Morrison armed with a piping bag full of white icing to piece together the roof so she could finish putting gumdrops on her masterpiece.

“Kids are what it’s all about all the time,” Bazzano said. “Not just Christmastime, all the time.”

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