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Annual Lawrenceville Cookie Tour brings holiday cheer and sweet treats

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Annual Lawrenceville Cookie Tour brings holiday cheer and sweet treats

There were more than 45 stops on The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Tour 2018 in Lawrenceville this weekend.

There were more than 45 stops on The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Tour 2018 in Lawrenceville this weekend.

Maggie Medoff | Contributing Writer

There were more than 45 stops on The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Tour 2018 in Lawrenceville this weekend.

Maggie Medoff | Contributing Writer

Maggie Medoff | Contributing Writer

There were more than 45 stops on The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Tour 2018 in Lawrenceville this weekend.

By Maggie Medoff, Staff Writer

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Lawrenceville shop owners were granted a business boom over the weekend, with heaps of Pittsburghers roaming Butler Street and Penn Avenue – and they had cookies to thank for it.

Lawrenceville’s annual Joy of Cookies Tour — a weekend-long event consisting of holiday gift sales and cookie collecting — took place from Friday through Sunday. More than 45 businesses in the neighborhood took part in the event.

In addition to shopping and munching on cookies, attendees could also vote for their favorite cookie featured at the tour on the event website, which would help determine the winner of the Joy of Cookies Cookie Cup – an award for the business with the best cookies and overall atmosphere.

The event first began in 1997 as a holiday open-house event, and the number of participating Lawrenceville businesses has grown significantly over the years. Each tour stop is responsible for baking sample-sized cookies for their customers, and 15 designated take-a-break stops are chosen to serve coffee and meals to attendees along the way.

Jen Macort, a Bloomfield resident who has participated in the self-guided Cookie Tour several times before, said the event introduced her to Lawrenceville, an area of the City she was previously a lot less familiar with.

“Usually, I’ll go to specific places like B52 Cafe or my salon, which is all the way at the other end of [Butler] street. I don’t really go to any of the shops in the the middle of the street,” Macort said.

Like many other attendees, she was finally able to get a complete sense of a neighborhood she usually only drove through by exploring it on foot.

Not all of the cookie stops were shops — stops included art galleries, bakeries, gyms and even real-estate office buildings. Each of the 47 cookie stops could be identified by a large, brown gingerbread man placed at the entrance, with an assigned cookie stop number painted in white.

The cookies were primarily a mix of gingerbread, chocolate chip, chocolate-caramel and different variations of decorated sugar cookies. Some stops let visitors fill up an entire bag with desserts, while others had a strict one-cookie-per-person limit.

A large part of the event involved local businesses advertising their products and services, as the tour was an opportunity for them to get more foot traffic.

The Persad Center — an organization serving the mental health needs of LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS-impacted communities in the greater Pittsburgh area — has participated in the tour since the event launched.

Jay Yoder, the center’s director of development, said the Cookie Tour is a great time for the center to spread the word about the work they do for the Pittsburgh community.

“It’s perfect because there’s kind of this built-in tradition of the Cookie Tour that people know about, so they’re willing to drop by, grab cookies and we can talk about our mission,” Yoder said.

Persad had a platter of ginger spice cookies out for attendees to help themselves. The cookies were baked by the center’s board members, and like other stops on the tour, they provided a recipe card for visitors looking to bake holiday cookies of their own.

The Persad Center also had the work of several artists on display, including Tom Swartz’ Anytime Ornaments, glass plates and kitchenware made by Riverside Design Group and a painting series by local artist Pat Patterson.

Hippie & French, a newly opened CBD boutique, was another popular stop on the tour.

The shop sells cannabidiol-infused oils, vapes, tonics, bath and beauty products and food for both humans and pets.

The shop had a sugar-cookie platter in the front window – many customers would munch on their cookies while browsing for possible holiday gifts.

Lindsay French, the shop’s founder and owner, said the Cookie Tour was a great opportunity to gain exposure from Pittsburghers who generally don’t come to Lawrenceville.

“Our sales from yesterday were a record-high. We have never gotten that much in revenue in one day,” French said.

Having only opened her shop three weeks ago, French was excited about the opportunity the tour provided for advertising her new business.

“It’s a great avenue to get our product out there and get the word out there that we’re here,” French said.

For most business owners who volunteered their spaces as cookie stops, the joy of sharing treats for the holiday season was certainly present, along with a refreshed excitement for events to come and the work they have to share with the greater Pittsburgh area.

For Macort, the event is a staple of the holiday season. It’s an event she has on her list of things to do year after year.

“Sometimes it’s snowing, sometimes it’s hot like this — but no matter what, I always make sure to get a bunch of cookies,” she said. “I’m a big planner, and I plan to come to this every year.”

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Annual Lawrenceville Cookie Tour brings holiday cheer and sweet treats