For years, it has been a fall tradition to listen to jazz and watch competitive gingerbread house building at the Early Connections Gingerbread & Jazz fundraising gala in the majestic, history-filled center at Rio Grande and Tejon streets.

Early on, and until their costumes were worn out, two gingerbread people had greeted elegant guests as they arrived.

And this year scaffolding is in place to refurbish and protect the building’s gorgeous leaded stained glass windows, the originals from the early days of Colorado Springs Day Nursery, founded in 1897.

So for its special 25th anniversary year, staff and Executive Director Diane Price moved the Gingerbread & Jazz party evening to The Broadmoor on Nov. 2.

It broke all records, with 329 people donating over $143,000 to the oldest nonprofit child care organization in the state, where 98% of the families receive tuition assistance. Early Connections is that special place where, according to a delightful child in the evening’s video, “We learn, we eat, we play.”

Teams competing for the Gingerbread Masterpiece Challenge honors were Phantom Canyon’s grand prize winner, “There’s No Place Like Home”; Sugarplum Cake Shoppe’s “Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory; Icing on the Cake’s “Winter Jubilee”; and Hotel Elegante’s “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

After dinner and a spirited raise-the-paddle, there was dancing to Flatirons Jazz Orchestra.

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