I must confess that up until last week I had no idea what a peep was. For the benefit of those peep ignorant ones, peeps are those gooey marshmallow chicks and bunnies that appear in Easter baskets on Easter Sunday. Since they don’t appear at the Passover seder with the matzoh and charoses, no wonder I hadn’t heard of them. Of course, I had seen them before but I had never heard them called peeps. Insofar as eating the marshmallow gooeys, true confession is that I don't much like them. Chocolate is better. It is obvious, however, that peeps are an obsession for some—and not just for eating.
For example, National Geographic Traveler has a contest for peeps in places. Just take some of those gooey guys along and put them in a photo. They will feature a different peep photo on their website. Winners must show in their photos that the peep(s) had a good time. No, I didn’t make this up.
In Washington, it is time for the annual Washington Post peep show. I didn’t make this up either. The contest was announced on February 14th and entries had to be submitted no later than February 28th. The size constraint was that the winning diorama had to be portable by one person. First prize is 2 nights at The Gaylord at National Harbor and a lot of candy from a peeps store there. Who knew there was such a store? Well, it does sell other candy aside from peeps for those who dislike eating peeps instead of playing with them.
For newly married self described cathedral nuts, Andrew Martin and Julie Avetta, the contest—and what they created, together with Christine McCann, was a natural. Andrew got his BA in medieval history (she got hers in linguistics and is a lawyer so those degrees don’t count), they spent an early date looking at gargoyles on the outside of The Washington National Cathedral, and their recent honeymoon visiting gothic cathedrals in France. Andrew is a docent at The Washington National Cathedral; they were even married in its choir. One day, while guiding student tourists there after the contest was announced, Andrew was looking at some tourists and noticed a resemblance to peeps--no doubt because the tourists were kids and they all buy the same shirts and hats as souvenirs. From that The Washington Peep-thedral was born.
Andrew, Julie and Christine immediately began brain storming how they were going to do this creation; it was completed in two weeks by spending all their free time on it. Christine, an accomplished sewer, had many scraps of fabric from handbags she creates and sells. She made the costumes for each of the 37 marshmallow guys (or gals--whatever they are) from her remnants; she made liberal use of a glue gun so that the peeps did not lose their clothes and attract Peeping Toms; the peeps in the Peep-thedral are, therefore, no longer edible.
The rest of the work was divided up among the three. Some materials had to be bought. Some things, such as the capitals for the main columns were expensive. Some things were not. The Darth Vader “gargoyle” is a Pez dispenser purchased for $3 on ebay (including shipping); the other “gargoyles” are erasers from The Cathedral gift shop. The organ was a dollhouse organ with the “pipes” made out of drinking straws and spray painted. The space window and creation window are sun catchers from The Cathedral gift shop back lit with halogen lighting; the other stained glass windows are photos. The Peep-thedral floor is from photographs taken by Andrew and Julie. Other materials came from the well known tschotscke chain Micheal’s.
When DCLikeaLocal interviewed trio, they said that the money and time were worth it because they had had so much fun. DCLikeaLocal does not know if they will win the contest, but, they are already winners because they have just given so many people such pleasure. Their Peep-thedral site on facebook went up on February 28th and had over 2,300 fans after a week.
Today the semifinalists were announced and The Washington National Peep-thedral made the cut! The imaginative marshmallow creation is in the running to be grand prize winner. There is also a peeple's choice award and all peeple have been asked--in the style of the first Richard Daley--to vote early and vote often. The grand prize winner will be announced on Easter Sunday. The Peep-thedral will be displayed in the lobby of The Post if it wins the grand prize. If not, it will be donated to The Washington National Cathedral.
Word is that the Bishop of Washington has seen and loves the Peep-thedral. Certainly, it would be an attraction to the school groups if placed in The Non-Peep-Thedral Cathedral. Maybe docents could just skip the regular tour and let the student tourists have a peep at the Peep-thedral. They could certainly see more of Darth Vader in the peep version than they can on the regular cathedral where it is so high up that you need binoculars.
For a complete collection of Peep-Thedral photos, check the Peep-Thedral site on facebook.
Photos of last year's finalists and winners can be found here. Please note, that, despite the fact that peeps do not appear to be KP (kosher for Passover), number 32 last year was a Peepover Seder. In the opinion of DC Like a Local, none of the top 40 entries pictured from last year can hold a marshmallow to The Washington National Peep-Thedral. We haven't, of course, seen the other entries this year, but can there be something funnier? We doubt it. And we here at DC Like a Local are never shy about expressing our biased opinions.