Building a Sweet Tradition
And lots of laughter.
That’s been the very merry scene of a 20-year Christmas tradition in Fort Worth called Cookies & Castles.
Not only does this Fort Worth tradition look good, taste good, and smell good (hello, gingerbread!), but it’s also raised $1 million for Cook Children’s Hematology and Oncology Department since its inception over two decades ago.
“We are so grateful for the support that the Fort Worth Alumnae Chapter of Delta Delta Delta provides to our Hematology and Oncology Center,” said Wendy Eubank, Community Partner Fundraising Coordinator at Cook Children’s Health Foundation. “Since 2001, Cookies & Castles has given over one million dollars to help us treat children who have been diagnosed with a variety of cancers. Gifts like this are what allow us to pursue the most innovative therapies such as our Cellular Immunotherapy Program and provide our patients with excellent care and improve their quality of life.”
The event was started by the Fort Worth Tri Delta Alumnae Chapter in 2001, and the gingerbread house decorating celebration has grown bigger — and sweeter — ever since.
The 2021 Gingerbread Decorating Extravaganza will be a drive-thru experience December 2 and 3 so that you can take the festivities home to enjoy safely with your friends and family. The gingerbread decorating kit will include your choice of a gingerbread house or man, icing, and plenty of holiday candy to make your house come to life! Each package will also include a tote bag and apron, and patrons will receive extra special goodies. Click here to purchase your kits!
Today, that matters more than ever, because joy has been harder to find as the pandemic rages on and continues to impact lives and change the traditions we’ve all come to love — which is why Cookies & Castles is extra special this year.
“We started going as children,” said Mary Katherine Clarke, the 2021 event co-chair. “I can remember going when it was held at Texas Christian University (TCU). It was in the building by the stadium, but it’s a very messy event! So, we couldn’t stay there very long,” Clarke laughed.
Clarke says it’s an “all hands-on deck community event” that’s created a bond between members of the community, TCU, and Cook Children’s for all these years.
So, what’s the secret to creating a dazzling and deliciously adorned gingerbread house?
“It’s helpful to go into it with a plan so you know what type of candy to get for your house. Using lots of icing is key to making those heavier candies stick and spending some time on the ‘yard’ around the house adds a lot to the finished product,” said Clarke. “Most importantly, have fun and make sure to eat some candy along the way!”
Part of the sweet success of the event is its ability to contribute to the Jean Wiggen Roach Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to an outstanding TCU member of the Tri Delta sorority each year.
Giving back to TCU students and Cook Children’s is why founders, Page Doby and Kelley Hanley, started getting their hands sweet and sticky in the first place.
“In the late 1990s, Tri Delta was looking for a way to raise funds for the hospital. Kelly and I were talking about event ideas knowing we wanted to make sure the event would be multi-generational and fun for the whole community, while raising a lot of funds for the hospital,” said Doby. “Cookies & Castles met all the criteria! It started off small and each chair has put their own improvement on the event to build it to where it is today. We are blown away by the women, who as children, attended the event with their mothers and are now bringing their children. It has become a family event that kicks off the holiday season in Fort Worth every year.”
For more than a decade, Sarah Angle has worked as a Texas-based writer. She began her career as a daily newspaper reporter and photographer, and now teaches in the School of Strategic Communication at TCU. Sarah lives in Fort Worth with her darling daughter and a house full of books and mid-century modern décor.