The basement of the Eldridge Hotel has turned into a showcase for edible real estate.
Twenty-six houses made of gingerbread, graham crackers and other sweets are on display in the basement of the hotel, Seventh and Massachusetts, through Wednesday.
The houses will be auctioned off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Crystal Room of the hotel, as a fund-raiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Douglas County.
"We'd like to either match or make more than last year," said Kelly Thornton, a Big Brothers/Big Sisters board member and chair of the gingerbread auction.
Of 26 houses in this year's auction, 15 are made of gingerbread. The rest are made with graham crackers, she said.
"You could eat them, but most people buy them to display," Thornton said. "That's one of the rules -- everything on the houses had to be 100 percent edible."
Last year, organizers raised $12,000 for Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
That's more than double the amount raised during the first gingerbread auction, held five years ago, when $5,300 was raised, Thornton said.
At the auction, houses usually sell for $50 and up, she said. Last year, one house fetched $1,600.
"Some people spend weeks or months working on their houses," she said.
The houses will be on display from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.
Cost for attending Wednesday's auction is $20 at the door.
The gingerbread auction is one of three major fund-raisers for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Douglas County each year, Thornton said.
-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.