Gingerbread village displays in Long Beach have been bringing joy to the community for over a decade

Each year, Isaac Salgado says the gingerbread villages get bigger and better with the help of volunteers and donations.

Amanda Palacios Image
Friday, December 1, 2023
Gingerbread villages have been bringing joy to the LB community
Former executive chef and business owner Isaac Salgado has been building elaborate gingerbread villages for the past 11 years and displays them in business storefront windows for the holidays.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- In the front window of Confidential Coffee in Long Beach, you can see an elaborate display of a gingerbread village.

But if you take a closer look inside, you'll see familiar small businesses and iconic buildings in the community, displayed on a giant mountain that stands over 12 feet tall.

"It has a little bit of influence of downtown Long Beach. Some of the homes, you can recognize, the shape of different historic homes, different buildings. I also put some murals on the home itself, so it has a really good Long Beach feel to it," said gingerbread village creator Isaac Salgado.

Salgado is a former executive chef who owns his own flooring company called Rug'it. The Long Beach resident says he works on real houses throughout the year. But during the holidays, he gets to work on gingerbread houses and starts baking them as early as September.

"Every structure on average takes about 8 hours. It takes about 3-4 days. Every day, you're doing something different. So the first day you're baking, the second day after it's cool, you're actually putting it together and assembling," Salgado said.

Salgado said he built his very first gingerbread house display over 10 years ago for a Christmas event in Long Beach. From there, the tradition of creating gingerbread villages started. And each year, Salgado said they get bigger and better, with the help of volunteers and donations.

"We do different things. We had an iceberg one year, we had a Christmas tree where the houses were on the limbs of the Christmas tree. So, we come up with something different every year," said Hulean Tyler, treasurer for Wilmore City Heritage Associate.

Salgado said the entire structure is completely edible and in total, he used 300 to 400 pounds of candy, sugar, cookies and chocolate.

"As long as it's small and looks like something on a house, we're going to use it," Salgado said.

But this isn't Salgado's only gingerbread village display. Just down the street from Confidential Coffee, there's another grand display at the historic Bembridge House. Salgado says every year he likes to showcase the villages inside different small businesses.

"As you can see, it's very large and the awe of people that come in here to see the work that goes into this, it's always a lot of fun," said Sheila Gibbons, Vice President of the Bembridge House for Long Beach Heritage.

"Every year you see smiles and joy and that's what the holidays are about. And the fact that I have support from community members and businesses and Willmore Heritage Association, I'll just keep doing this for the community,"

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