An estimated 1,000 people filed into The Washington Center for the Performing Arts to see Gingerbread Village, one of several Sunday activities tied to a long-running event, known as Downtown for the Holidays.
Organized by the Olympia Downtown Association, it encourages people to go downtown and see Santa Claus, watch a parade or tree lighting, or go shopping.
Gingerbread Village is a longtime event, but for the third year, the Olympia nonprofit SideWalk organized the activity and turned it into a fundraiser for the rapid rehousing group, said executive director Phil Owen.
Gingerbread Village was sponsored by South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity. There was a gap year, Owen said, and then SideWalk took over.
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“We took it on, and it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
There was no cost to see the village, but visitors paid $1 for a “voting ticket” to vote for their favorite display.
As for SideWalk’s mission, the nonprofit will reach a goal of placing 300 homeless people in housing before the end of the year, Owen said. In the past four years, they’ve helped 800 people get into housing, including the chronically homeless.
A number of people also visited a new downtown store called Papillon Marketplace at 528 Capitol Way S. The business was opened two weeks ago by Shelley Clay, who has ties to Olympia, but who also spends half the year in Haiti. The business is focused on helping orphans in Haiti, said employee Sarah Hutchins, by employing Haitians to make a range of items sold in the store and provide for their families.
Among those items: ornamental wall hangings made of tin, ceramic jewelry and mugs, and perhaps most interesting — jewelry made of recycled cereal boxes, but that has the look and feel of seashells.
Clay decided to open her store in Olympia because she has family in the city, Hutchins said.
If you go, Papillon Marketplace is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m Mondays through Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.