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GingerBread Holiday

Of iconic scenes in classic Christmas movies, one promised a mountain of fun for student bakers at Medford's Cascade Christian High School.

The polar perch for a department-store Santa Claus in "A Christmas Story" inspired the group's entry in this year's GingerBread Jubilee. It's just one take on the much-loved 1983 film rendered in cookies, candy and other confections for the annual event at Medford's Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater.

"We looked at all these different movies," says student advisor Leanne Wood. "It's kind of a family favorite."

Of the 45 entries expected to arrive today for Jubilee judging, about half fit into this year's theme: "A Silver Screen GingerBread Holiday." Theater visitors can look for "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," "Polar Express," "Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas," "The Grinch" and "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" — the quintessential catch phrase from "A Christmas Story."

"I have seen it a million times," says Cascade senior Madison Malot. "It's my dad's favorite movie."

Malot and five other Cascade students unanimously agreed on the concept, watched the film and, in late September, set to work sculpting the faux mountain in Higbee's Department Store from Rice Krispies Treats and royal icing.

Admittedly, mounding puffed cereal is easier for beginners than cutting and fitting gingerbread panels, says Wood.

In twice-weekly meetings for several hours after school, students formed the hill's slide in red fondant, the store facade in gingerbread stamped to suggest bricks, windows from gelatin sheets, a staircase from shards of hard candy and evergreen trees from inverted ice-cream cones and pretzel sticks. Jubilee submissions must be comprise entirely edible materials.

"We'll have presents all over," says Wood, indicating myriad gift-wrapped boxes and figurines molded from the sugar paste known to bakers as fondant.

Cascade's director of development designate, Wood won second place in the 2009 Jubilee's group division for her distinctive "Snowfall on Osaka Castle" with then-17-year-old daughter Christina Bryson. Instead of competing again, Wood organized Cascade's project as a school-sanctioned extracurricular activity.

"I was so lucky that first year I didn't want to blow it that next year," says Wood. "I thought I would try to inspire some of the children."

In addition to Malot, Cascade senior Fu Tsan Morrison, sophomores Kelly Norman, Gwen Hamblin and Dara Worthington and Grace Christian School sixth-grader Halle Donnelly signed up. None had ever competed in the Jubilee. Students from Armadillo Technical Institute in Phoenix also have pledged several entries, says Mary Patridge, baking coordinator for the Jubilee.

A few familiar faces will be absent from this year's competition. "In a class by themselves" for several years running, the Corcoran family of Central Point did not enter, says Patridge, who didn't explain the family's circumstances except to say they remain volunteers for the Jubilee.

The family swept 2010's student and group divisions while 39-year-old mom Melisa Corcoran, a frequent "people's choice" baker in seven years of participation, claimed "best of show." Corcoran and daughter Rhiannon, 10, also took home $2,000 last year.

"It's a new contest this year," says Patridge.

Bakers are vying for cash prizes totalling $3,350. Entries will be auctioned off at a gala dinner Friday evening, along with travel and entertainment packages, gourmet meals and a "sneak peek" inside the new Lithia Commons project. Last year's Jubilee raised nearly $100,000 for Craterian Performances.

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.

Myriad fondant figurines and flourishes will decorate Cascade Christian High School's GingerBread Jubliee entry. - Bob Pennell