PROVO Provo's Center Street is all aglow with candy windows.
This year there are six sugary creations, crafted under the direction of the Provo Arts Council, made entirely of edible materials answering the prompt "All I want for Christmas is ..."
First place winner Raelyn Webster, 45, of Riverton, spent about 800 hours on her sticky creation, now on display in the window of Osaka Japanese Restaurant, 46 W. Center. She has been with the candy window project every year since it began in 2000. Webster's window answers the theme "... to see if reindeer really know how to fly." A 200-pound candy blimp carries two children and a dog all with spiky brown hair made from chocolate licorice.
The artwork is the view a person would have from a blimp if it were floating over Provo. Y mountain is various lumpy brown candies. A 10-foot-high night sky is grape-flavored hard candy. The base is city lights. Webster created this by drilling holes in blue gum balls and allowing for light to shine through the floor.
Webster is especially proud of the black licorice tire on the blimp. "It turned out perfect," she said. Second place winner Starr Stratford, 29, of Midway, worked with her mother, Kathleen Peterson, 56, of Spring City in Sanpete County. They did most of the work separately, then put their project together at Grandma's house in Provo.
Stratford's creation is a girl riding a pony. Chocolate licorice makes the girl's cowboy boots. Black licorice whips are the horse's tail. The animal's hooves are black gumdrops.
Stratford says she loves working with licorice. "You can shape it and twist it and make all different shapes," she said. Stratford said the only disaster was that she made the girl's eyes from blue taffy. The eyes began to melt in the hot window. "She looked like a creepy Halloween figure," Stratford said.
Her window is at Mullett Hoover, 184 W. Center.
The Provo Arts Council pays for the artists' candy. Generally the most popular items are Jelly Bellys, Smarties, Tart-n-Tinys, gummy bears and Chiclets, says Kathryn Allen, executive director of the Provo Arts Council.
The creations aren't something the artists whip up in a couple of weeks. Many begin work right after the old window art comes down in January. The artists attend monthly meetings. During the summer the group takes a field trip to each artist's home to see how their project is coming along. This motivates them to at least get started. Still, some artists wait until right before the entry date and even pull an all-nighter to perfect their sweet art. "There's a real push at the end," Stratford said.
Artists are awarded with ribbons and cash prizes: $750 for first place, $500 for second place, $250 for third place and $100 to $50 for honorable mention.
The windows will stay up until after the first weekend of January. The Osaka window will remain until Valentine's Day.
During Provo's Christmas parade, which is usually in the beginning of December, the artists hand out free hot chocolate and talk to guests about their windows. "Kids always ask if I am going to eat the candy," Webster said. She said the candy is faded and dusty after a month in a window. Most of it goes in the garbage.Allen decided to start the candy window project in Provo after she missed the decorated windows in ZCMI in downtown Salt Lake City. In 2000, Allen enlisted the help of an art class at Timpview High School and they did one window with a Harry Potter theme. The window art project has grown in popularity each year.
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