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It’s a sweet time in Coupeville’s Candyland

Nora Finnerty, 8, and Jack Finnerty, 5, reach for tasty treats during a life-sized game of Candyland at the Coupeville Library. Jack was also the lucky raffle winner of a rabbit puppet donated by The Honey Bear. The family was visiting from Pennsylvania.  - Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times
Nora Finnerty, 8, and Jack Finnerty, 5, reach for tasty treats during a life-sized game of Candyland at the Coupeville Library. Jack was also the lucky raffle winner of a rabbit puppet donated by The Honey Bear. The family was visiting from Pennsylvania.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times

Through the Peppermint Forest and past the Licorice Castle, a group of children paraded in search of sugar to liven up the summer day. Sparkling with the sweet treats passed down through generations by such characters as Queen Frostine, Mr. Mint and Princess Lolly, the Coupeville Library transformed into a sugar-coated step into the imagination.

More than 60 children and their families showed up to participate in Life-Sized Candyland Wednesday afternoon. Debbie LaGasse, children’s liaison for the Oak Harbor Library, headed the event.

LaGasse started the event with a song about sticky bubblegum that left the kids giggling for more. She followed that with excerpts from “How Sweet It Is (and Was),” a story about the history of candy. When she asked the children how many pounds of sugar Americans eat per year, guesses like 1,000 and 3 million came from the audience. LaGasse unveiled the true number: 7 billion pounds, which is 24 pounds of sugar per person per year.

“And in just a minute, we’re going to go eat some more,” LaGasse laughed.

The famous board game Candyland consists of a playing board dotted with heavily frosted gumdrops, a sea of ice cream and enough sugary confections that, despite being cardboard, may inspire drooling, or at least a trip to the candy jar. Delicious characters like Lord Licorice and King Kandy surround a trail of colored squares. Children draw cards depicting colored squares and then move to the corresponding square on the board with the goal of being the first to traverse the tasty realm.

When the children entered the library, they saw a replica of the board -- only this one was life-sized. A trail of colored rectangles wound through the room. Plastic gumdrops adorned a table representing the Gumdrop Mountains, and giant foam licorice sticks sat beside the table where Lord Licorice resided.

One sweet detail set this game apart from the board game: when kids passed each table representing the various areas of Candyland, they received some candy.

It was Halloween in July as children grabbed bags for their candy and moved from square to square as LaGasse called out the colors. Kids eagerly held out their hands for candy at each table and begged their parents for permission to dig into their bounty. There were no winners, but as each group finished, they got the chance to color on a wall mural.

“I think it was pretty cool,” Katelynn Kumm, 9, said after she finished. Since her grandma, LaGasse, was in charge of the event and her older sister was a volunteer, Kumm was excited to attend. Kumm was also a big fan of the Candyland board game when she was younger.

“It was pretty fun because it’s got a lot of cool places and the title really fits in with the game: Candyland,” Kumm said, adding that she plans to do more library events this summer.

Rebecca Glavan brought her three children, Caroline, 3, Lori, 8, and Mirko, 7, to the event.

“They heard ‘Candyland’ and they like that theme,” Rebecca Glavan said of the children’s excitement to attend the event. The rave reviews from friends who attended last year were also convincing. As the trio finished the game, their eagerness to dig into their treasure trove of sugar only intensified, securing more positive reviews of the library event.

While the board game was originally published in 1949 by Milton Bradley Company, it doesn’t seem like it will disappear anytime soon. In 2005, Forbes magazine analyzed the most popular toys in America by decade and Candyland led the list for the 1940s decade.

Also in 2005, an animated Candyland movie was produced called “The Great Lollipop Adventure.” An interactive DVD version of the game was later created and now the board game can be seen with new themes including Winnie the Pooh, Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants.

To learn about other summer events by Sno-Isle Libraries, visit www.sno-isle.org.

 

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