Five-year-old Jonah Wurtzel created the Fort Knox of gingerbread dog-houses Saturday, largely because high levels of security required gobs of frosting and piles of sugary candy bits.
He also developed a narrative as he constructed his fortress at a Snoopy's gingerbread doghouse-making class at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.
"If a bad guy comes, he'll trip on this and go 'Ahh,' into the snow and get stuck," Jonah said, his vest speckled with frosting. "A dad will come with his cane and whack the robber."
Wurtzel and his grandmother, Helen O'Donnell, were among the approximately 30 children and parents who attended the morning class. About 20 older students attended an additional class in the afternoon.
The annual event that draws pre-kindergartners through sixth-graders has proved popular since it was launched approximately eight years ago, said Jessica Ruskin, the museum's education director.
"I like that it can be a tradition for some people or just a one-time experience," she said.
A sugary, sticky, sweet, one-time experience.
"It's a theme of absolute messiness," she said.
And that was the draw for many parents, who watched their children glob goo, attach candy and dust "snowy" front yards with ground cinnamon without having to worry about the cleanup.
"It's hurricane resistant with all of that 'glue,'" dad Ken Finley said of his 4-year-old daughter Presley's creation. "She's got it dialed in — it's all about the structure, then you pretty it up. It's no good if it falls down."
Emiliano Andrade, 8, said creating a sturdy doghouse takes patience.
"I hold it together until it stays, then it just sticks," he said, admiring his work. "I want to eat this. It's the most stuff I've used."
But no one in the morning class used more "stuff" than Jonah.
His compound was lined with hedgerows of licorice, pretzel fencing, pools of sticky frosting and gumdrop missiles on the roof.
"If the bad guys come and they don't see this, they'll, 'bonk,'" he said, stabbing a marshmallow with a pretzel and popping it into his mouth. "They'll get stuck in the snowbank."
Jonah attended Saturday's class after his mother arranged the outing with his grandmother.
"I think Jonah likes me to come because I don't notice if he eats the candy," O'Donnell said with a smile.
Across the room, Presley's mom, Sara Finley, said she's likely, in the spirit of the season, to let her kids sample freely from their creations.
"They can go for it," she said. "Panel by panel would be fun."
Staff Writer Kerry Benefield can be reached at 526-8671, email@example.com or on Twitter @benefield.