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Peace message resonates at holiday contest

Ginger Betty’s Bakery, of Quincy, won Best in Show for its gingerbread gameboard inspired by Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard.Handout

After months of selling gingerbread peace cookies in honor of Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, Ginger Betty’s Bakery owner Beth Veneto decided to continue with the peace theme, but on a bigger scale.

The Quincy bakery owner created a giant gingerbread game board for its entry in the 20th annual Gingerbread House Competition at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center on Nov. 8-10, and it won Best in Show for its colorful and meaningful tribute to Bostonians and 8-year-old Martin’s message of peace.

A total of 16 gingerbread houses were entered, said competition organizers, many from eateries such as Tosca Restaurant in Hingham, and sponsored by businesses such as Rockland Trust in Rockland and Clappazzola Partners in Sharon.


“I was super excited this year, because in the last 20 years this was one of my most special,” Veneto said of her creation. “It stirred feelings for a lot of people.”

Veneto had been selling individual peace cookies since the summer, donating more than $10,000 in proceeds to the Richard family, of Dorchester. The inspiration behind the gingerbread game board design, titled “Team up for peace,” came from a picture of Martin in school holding up a sign that read, “No more hurting people. Peace.”

The 8-foot-long edible game board had start and finish lines with steppingstones of bright colors in between. Weaving in and out of the path were characters from Boston sports teams — the Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots — the Citgo sign, Prudential Tower, Boston Duck Tours boats, and TD Garden.

Veneto included “Boston Strong” gingerbread pieces as well as Martin’s peace cookies throughout the game board.

“People were just saying, ‘What a message,’ ” Veneto said. “People could see the finish line, and they just got it.”

The 50-pound gingerbread and 25-pound frosted creation was donated to the competition’s auction benefiting Housing Families Inc. , a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending family homelessness.


With help from friends, Veneto bought back the gingerbread game board for $500. The winning entry now sits in the bakery for people to view and be reminded of Martin’s message.

“We always try to be creative and come up with something happening now, something magical and fun,” said Veneto, who opened her small bakery on Samoset Avenue in 1995 after a few years of selling gingerbread desserts out of her house. “This year, it was super special. It’s not just a gingerbread house — it had a message.”

Nicole Leonard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @NicALeonard.