Overton Hotel unveils Overton Express gingerbread display

A combination of gingerbread slabs, small cookies, icing, candy and a few pieces of wood make up the engine of the Overton Express.

 

A cart filled with presents and decorated with handprints of kids from the Texas Boys Ranch are attached to the engine.

You can’t ride it, but you can view it at the Overton Hotel and Conference Center through the end of December.

Doug Noxon, certified executive chef at the Overton, said it’s one of the heaviest designs his team has made in the six years the Overton has been creating and displaying gingerbread structures.

“This is a lot less detailed but a lot larger in scale,” he said.

Gingerbread displays have become a Christmas tradition with a purpose at the Overton.

Kurt Metcalf, general manager of the Overton, said the first gingerbread structure was designed about six years ago after meeting with John Sigle, president and CEO of the Texas Boys Ranch, and learning more about what the organization does. Metcalf got the idea to start a fundraiser for the Texas Boys Ranch and to create a large gingerbread display to draw attention to the cause.

It was a hit. The community has embraced the tradition, he said.

“It just keeps growing and growing,” Metcalf said.

A few past displays include a replica of the Texas Boys Ranch, a Dr. Seuss-themed display and a replica of the Overton Hotel and Conference Center, Metcalf said.

The real fundraising money makers are the events surrounding the display as well as business as usual for the Overton.

Donations are collected through checkouts as guests check out from the hotel or restaurant, through event bookings and by people walking in off the street to give money, Metcalf said.

Shannon Baker, director of sales and marketing for the Overton, said there are a few other upcoming events where people can donate to the cause, including a Breakfast With Santa, which is scheduled for 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the Pecan Grill. People interested are encouraged to RSVP by Friday, she said. Tickets cost $19.95 for adults, $7.95 for kids 12 and under and children under 4 years old can attend for free.

The hotel will also offer Sundays with Santa on Dec. 10 and 17 from 3-5 p.m., Baker said. Kids will have a chance to write letters to Santa, sip hot cocoa and maybe even chat with Santa.

As a result of the month-long fundraiser, Metcalf said, the Overton donated about $12,000 to the Texas Boys Ranch last year.

Sigle, with the Texas Boys Ranch, said the Texas Boys Ranch serves an average of 215 kids, both boys and girls, who have been removed from their homes each year.

He’s grateful for the partnership with the Overton because it has yielded notoriety for the Texas Boys Ranch, which was originally Metcalf’s goal.

“It’s allowed the community to know who we are,” he said.

And the kids enjoy the gingerbread display, he said.

 

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