House of Crumbs: Gingerbread recreation of Longyearbyen goes on diet, but still provides plenty of energy

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It’s built exactly to scale, can withstand huffing and puffing, and even has the potential to provide local residents plenty of energy.

As in real life, the power plant towers above the other buildings in this year’s gingerbread recreation of Longyearbyen. Beate Flak, an industrial mechanic at the real plant, said creators of the cookie construction calculated the dimensions based on official building documents.

“The dimensions with the pipe is supposed to be 83 centimeters high,” she said.

This year’s gingerbread village, like Longyearbyen in real life, went through a downsizing with only seven buildings compared to 15 last year, said Tone Løvberg who organized this year’ project. Last year’s village was displayed in a storefront window in Lompensenteret that has since been occupied by a business, resulting in this year’s village being moved to a much smaller display area in the Rabalder Café and Bakery.

“Next year it will be in the new library,” she said, referring to a project now underway that will build an expanded public library adjacent to the cafe.

This year’s participants, responding to social media requests, built their contributions separately before bringing them to the cafe for a lighting ceremony Sunday afternoon. Among the structures are Gjesthuset 102, Villa Fredheim, Svalbard Husky and JM Hansen.

“Everybody made the buildings they are in,” Løvberg said.

The relatively massive power plant is decorated with plenty of subtle touches – from the coal dust on the ground to the cotton-puff smoke at the top – in addition to the flashy lights, candies icing and other touches. Less noticeable is the steel frame that Flak said was built specifically for this year’s gingerbread model to help ensure it remains standing.

A total of six plant workers built the gingerbread power plant, she said.

“One guy drawing it and one guy making the actual frame, three people doing the baking and one more person doing the decorating,” she said, describing the team’s primary responsibilities. But there was some overlap as “I did baking, mounting, decorating and I brought it here. And I did the shopping.”

The baking and assembly process took about four to five hours and the decorating took a couple more, Flak said.

The last power plant built for the gingerbread village was in 2011, with employees blowing it up in an explosion afterward, she said. This year’s building will be less violently taken apart so the steel frame can be saved for future years.

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