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Athenaeum presents ‘cookie village’ to the public

The cookie village created by Girard Gourmet is on the Girard Avenue-facing side of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.
The cookie village created by Girard Gourmet is on the Girard Avenue-facing side of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.
(Courtesy)

For 20 years, a centerpiece of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s member holiday party has been the “cookie village” created by Girard Gourmet baker Francois Goedhuys – a recreation of La Jolla in cookie form. This year, without a holiday party at which to gather, the Athenaeum has decided to place the custom creation in the window of its art center at 1008 Wall St.

It will be on display for the general public through the month of December.

In a statement of Athenaeum supporters, Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri explained the cookie village was “always a delight and for everybody a memory for many years to come. This year, because of the pandemic, it was not possible. But we could not give up the tradition.”

A passerby looks at the Athenaeum's cookie village display.
(Courtesy)

So the Athenaeum commissioned the cookie village, which Goedhuys said includes “buildings in The Village you would recognize” such as the La Valencia hotel and St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, as well as ocean life such as fish and dolphins, and Santa bringing syringes in his sleigh “for the [COVID-19] vaccine.”

No stranger to recreating La Jolla landmarks, Goedhuys made a cake replica of the La Jolla Recreation Center — complete with cookie people – for the center’s centennial in 2015.

He told the Light, “I like being part of the community, so I enjoy making the display. I’ve been busy making cookies, but I’ve been told people like it. And I think it’s a good thing that everyone can see it this year.”

Athenaeum executive director Erika Torri puts the finishing touches on the cookie village.
(Courtesy)

In addition to the La Jolla cookie village, there is a display of the Weagley Dorf village.

Named for longtime Athenaeum volunteer Anna Weagley, the miniature village includes building of a flower shop, “mostly because the store was called ‘Erika,’” Torri said. “It was a replica of a German house and had been bought by Anna’s late husband on his frequent trips to Switzerland. In the following years, Anna would bring in more and more buildings and eventually bequeathed to the Athenaeum the entire collection. All the pieces were bought in the 1950s at the Franz Carl Weber toy store on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. In Anna’s honor, the collection has been named Weagley Dorf and has been on display at the Athenaeum during the month of December ever since [it was given to the Athenaeum in 1991]. We hope you enjoy the cherished Athenaeum tradition.”

Both villages are on display facing Girard Avenue.

Francois Goedhuys assembles the cookie village for the Athenaeum.
Francois Goedhuys assembles the cookie village for the Athenaeum.
(Courtesy)

“To do the display in the windows, it is not quite the same, and there will not be any cookies to take home, but they are all available down the street at the Girard Gourmet bakery; you might want to visit them,” Torri said.

The Athenaeum is closed in accordance with current state and county guidelines. However, online events are still taking place. Learn more about Athenaeum programming: ljathenaeum.org. ◆

The Weagley Dorf village, a display of miniature houses and buildings from Germany and Switzerland.
Accompanying the cookie village is the Weagley Dorf village, a display of miniature houses and buildings from Germany and Switzerland.
(Courtesy)