Gov. Rick Perry declares ACU gingerbread chapel "as big as Texas"; recognizes chef, students for dedicating the chapel to military


For immediate release
Dec. 13, 2001

Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a certificate to Abilene Christian University executive chef Gary Tharp and students recognizing them for creating a gingerbread chapel "as big as Texas" and dedicating it to troops abroad.

State representative Bob Hunter will present the certificate to Tharp Friday at 3 p.m. in front of the gingerbread chapel in ACU's World Famous Bean in the McGlothlin Campus Center.

The certificate reads in part, "It is through special projects like yours that Texans throughout our great state are reminded of the sacrifices that the men and women of the armed forces are making to ensure the safety and security of all Americans."

Tharp and the students who helped construct the gingerbread chapel dedicated it to America's troops serving abroad, particularly service members from Texas. They placed an American flag and a Texas flag on the top to signify the dedication.

"We want to honor them and do as President Bush instructed us -- move on with our lives but never forget," Tharp said. "The gingerbread chapel is also dedicated to our great president. While he cannot be at home this season, we are decorating Texas for him."

The gingerbread chapel is comprised of 85 sheets of gingerbread, 150 pounds of flour, 250 pounds of sugar, four gallons of egg whites for the icing, and nearly 4,000 pieces of candy.

Complete with a stately steeple reaching to the rafters, the giant gingerbread chapel greets students and visitors in the entryway to "The World Famous Bean" (ACU's cafeteria). 

"We think it's likely to be the largest gingerbread chapel in the state and maybe in the country," said newly-hired executive chef Gary Tharp, who designed and constructed this large, edible structure with the help of ACU students. "It's a perfect match on this Christian university campus, and it reflects the enduring values of our nation and the spirit of the season."

ACU's Department of Theatre helped with the construction by building a wooden frame for the structure, with a 10- by 24-foot base. The walls are primarily made of gingerbread, with cake icing used as glue and the nearly 4,000 pieces of candy for decoration.

The gingerbread project required quite a sacrifice of time by Tharp and the students who helped. The night of Nov. 27, Tharp and five students worked through the wee hours of the morning putting together the house, even as about eight inches of snow fell outside.

The house has become a popular attraction on campus, drawing students, faculty, staff and visitors. They want to have their pictures made in front of it, and occasionally try to sneak a nibble, Tharp said.

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Last update: Dec. 13, 2001

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