Santa’s Gingerbread Village and Workshop helps light up Downtown South Bend

Published 12:15 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

12.19.13 gingerbread

The Molnar-Szymczak family enjoying Santa’s Workshop. Leader Photos/Jill McCaughan

Downtown South Bend is offering a whole host of free, family-friendly things to do this Christmas season, including the chance to view and create edible art.

“We come here every year,” agreed several members of the Molnar-Szymczak family, of Mishawaka, Ind. Their visit included viewing the gingerbread village, decorating cookies and visiting with Santa. Riding the trolley and visiting the South Bend Chocolate Company were also on their agenda.

“Last year, the Grinch was there. Rudolph is supposed to be there this year,” said Mrs. Molnar-Szymczak, referring to the South Bend Chocolate Company’s special guests.

Many other families have also visited and enjoyed the variety of events that have been taking place in the 100 block of S. Michigan St. in South Bend over the last two weekends, and there is still time for more families to participate.

Events are  scheduled to take place from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20; 12 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21; 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22; and 12 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23  and Tuesday, Dec. 24.

On the sidewalk in front of the former College Football Hall of Fame, visitors will find Santa’s little red house, where he is greeting children and listening to their Christmas wishes. Parents are welcome to take photographs of their children participating in this holiday tradition.

Each of Santa’s visitors will receive an “I Believe” sticker that entitles them to a free chocolate bar at the nearby South Bend Chocolate Company. The trolley stop is also located in this area, and it will be available for rides on Dec. 21, 22, 23 and 24.

Inside the former College Football Hall of Fame, visitors will find 18 gingerbread houses that were entered into the DTSB’s annual competition. While the judging for the competition was conducted on Dec. 14, the houses will remain on display through Christmas Eve.

Prizes were awarded in three categories, including non-professional child, non-professional adult and professional. A people’s choice first place prize was also awarded.

Constructed of gingerbread and glued together with icing, the houses present viewers with insights into the creativity of their builders. While there are some traditional gingerbread houses, others are quite unique. One house boasts the inclusion of 32 different types of foodstuffs in its construction. Another creation depicts a Potawatomi village. A third depicts a French patisserie, or pastry shop, complete with tiny, life-like customers.

After viewing the gingerbread houses, families are invited to exercise their own creativity in the nearby cookie-decorating area. Dozens of tree-shaped sugar cookies, provided by Martin’s Supermarkets are available for free. Cookie-artists are provided with a rainbow palette of icing and sprinkles to use. Christmas-themed coloring sheets and markers are also available for visitors to use.

More information about Santa’s Gingerbread Village and Workshop and these other activities is available by visiting or by calling (574) 282-1110.

An additional free activity, offered only at 6 p.m. on Dec. 20,  will be The Roz Puppets’ “Holly Jolly Jingles” puppet show at the former College Football Hall of Fame Press Box.

Michelle Hyink, of Osceola, Ind. visited Santa and the gingerbread village with her two boys, Brayden and Daemon, ages 9 and 6.

“This is our first time here. It’s nice. I like it,” Hyink said, of her mom’s day out with her sons. “The boys are having a great time.”