Reporter Amy Reid helped judge the inaugural Gingerbread Village Contest at Central City Shopping Centre, hosted by the Downtown Surrey BIA. Voting is open until 9 p.m. Saturday outside Winners at the mall.

Reporter Amy Reid helped judge the inaugural Gingerbread Village Contest at Central City Shopping Centre, hosted by the Downtown Surrey BIA. Voting is open until 9 p.m. Saturday outside Winners at the mall.

VIDEO: Gingerbread Village contest on now in Surrey

Vote for your favourite creation at Central City Shopping Centre

The Downtown Surrey BIA has launched a new signature event this Christmas.

The business group invited the public to create gingerbread houses, and each entry will be a part of a ‘Gingerbread Village.’

The cookie houses are on display now to Dec. 16 near Winners at Central City Shopping Centre, with prizes of up to $1,000 for the victors.

The categories include elementary school, high school, post-secondary, community and service groups, charities/non-profits, and an open category to include businesses and individuals within the community.

First place in each category will receive $500 and runners up will win $250.

The display is open to visitors Friday, Dec. 15 and Saturday the 16th during mall hours (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.).

On Friday night at 5 p.m. the winners in each category will be announced, and the festivities will include music and face painters from 4 to 6 p.m.

In addition to awards chosen be a “secret panel of community judges,” there will be a People’s Choice Award.

“Over the course of the weekend, we will ask everyone who visits the display to vote for their favourite entry with a cash donation that will be given to the Surrey Christmas Bureau,” organizers say. “The entry who receives the most donations will be awarded a $500 prize following the end of the display. The People’s Choice winner will be announced on Facebook on Monday, December 18.”

“We were looking for a new and exciting way to engage the community and create a sense of togetherness,” said Kyla Fraser, an intern with the BIA who helped organize the inaugural event. “We have received over 30 entries, which is a wonderful response considering this is our very first year doing this event… It is a great way for people to have fun and donate to a great cause at the same time.”