Rochester — Guests who enter the lobby of the Royal Park Hotel are being greeted by the inviting scent of gingerbread and an elaborate, edible holiday display featuring a train made of the sweet and spicy confection.

For the 11th straight holiday season, the Royal Park and the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit have teamed up to present a gingerbread creation to visitors at the boutique hotel.

The event has become a holiday tradition for families in the community, said Major Tim Meyer, general secretary and Metro Detroit area commander of the Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division.

“The partnership between The Salvation Army and Royal Park Hotel is so sweet it has raised nearly $55,000 for northern Oakland County families in need, and we look forward to great community support again this year,” Meyer said.

At the heart of this year’s display, which includes gingerbread houses, children, lollipops and gumdrops, is the miniature locomotive and rail cars. 

“We’ve created a gingerbread train with fondant, chocolate rivets, gingerbread, royal frosting — we even have a sugar train lantern and headlights that light up,” said hotel pastry chef Mark Slessor. “We are looking at approximately 200 pounds of gingerbread and about 68 pounds of fondant,” a type of icing. 

The train is built on a wooden frame but as for the outside, much of it is edible. Slessor’s greatest fear? “You know, you’re always afraid a kid is going to break off a piece and eat it, but more or less, it is getting it up here in one piece.”

“One of the things we try to do is find a way to give them (kids) the gingerbread experience,” he said. “This time of year, we put out cookies.”

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