A new Newberry Christmas tradition transforms its downtown into a gingerbread village

NEWBERRY, Fla. — The city of Newberry has worked tirelessly to put together its first annual Gingerbread Village holiday celebration. With the streets lined with Christmas lights, event goers enjoyed a vintage Christmas market, the Firehouse art gallery in downtown Newberry and free hot cocoa.

The Newberry Gingerbread Village will be holding events on Dec. 10 and 17 to continue the holiday cheer with activities such as a gingerbread house decorating contest and a Christmas parade.

Jordan Marlowe, the mayor of Newberry and teacher at Newberry High School, kicked off the event with a quick speech that led up to the lighting of the Christmas tree in the heart of downtown.

“It takes a village of people to make the city of Newberry the capital of Christmas in Alachua County,” Marlowe said.

This entire project, from the wooden candy canes that framed windows to the Christmas lights that decked the buildings, was only possible through volunteer work from Newberry residents. Even a student from Newberry High School helped set up the town under the supervision of Marlowe.

“It was great to see the community come together and work towards making our city a winter wonderland,” Marlowe said.

Every part of the event came from a local business in Newberry. The Christmas vintage market was hosted by Sycamore Lane, all the wooden decorations including the Gingerbread house was made in Keene’s Cabinet Shop and all the art displayed in the Firehouse gallery were all from local artists.

This was organized by the Newberry Main Street Organization. According to their website, Newberry Main Street Organization’s goal is to, “strengthen our historical district through building an inclusive, walkable and diverse community by empowering our businesses and citizens through creative projects, promotions, events and activities.”

Charmagne Manning, the executive director of NMSO,  talks about bringing the Gingerbread Village to life.

“Our mayor had a vision,” Manning said. “And after we talked more to him about what he wanted for Newberry, Frances Bradley sat down and generated a unique idea that would set us apart from other communities within our area.”

Bradley is the design committee chair at NMSO and owner of local business Rebecca’s hair salon. Bradley has always been passionate about the community and wanted to make sure that she had the perfect idea going into this project.

“A big inspiration for the gingerbread theme was the architecture that already existed downtown,” Bradley said. “With the buildings being a bit older, I thought ‘Why not spruce them up a bit with come candy canes and gum drops?’”

Accounting with a budget of $10,000, NMSO was fully capable of using the resources at their disposal, however the community stepped up. Residents from Newberry whether they were teachers, students or hairdressers, everyone was willing to help out and make this new gingerbread tradition happen.

“Might as well have it be Christmas all-year round,” Marlowe said.

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