WhitmanVille Village on display
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Creating a small village from a collection amassed over the past quarter century is what Marie Whitman does every year. And each year it’s done during the holidays in a Christmas theme.
This is the fifth year she will share her collection with the public, but she set up small villages at her home during the holidays long before then. It started at the Intermodal Transportation and Tourist Center in Picayune and has grown so large that bigger venues are now needed.
Whitman said she started collecting the small houses and other mechanical and stationary decorations about 25 years ago. Each year she acquires another piece or two.
Some of the items are valuable to collectors. She estimates that some pieces she bought for about $150 years ago are worth much more today.
The showing of the WhitmanVille Village almost didn’t come to fruition this year due to a lack of venue. But, at the last minute, Bill Edwards stepped in to lend one of his currently vacant stores so she could get the display ready in time for Christmas on the Rails, set for Friday.
She’s only had a week to put it together, but in that time the display is almost ready for public viewing. Typically, she likes to have two weeks to organize the village.
Spread out across several tables covered in white cotton to simulate snow are hundreds of decorative homes, street lights, a train set, carnival rides, scare houses, nutcracker theater and ice rinks, just to name a few. About half of the collection includes moving pieces that either run on battery power or powered by electricity from an outlet. When the display is running, there’s a lot to see. Whitman said the children especially like the nutcracker display, which once activated features four different stages.
When the season is over and the village stored away, the entire collection can fit into a small space in her home.
“People don’t believe it fits in one closet,” Whitman said.
But that will soon change. As more pieces are added she estimates a second closet will be needed.
Whitman said her collection began with a simple train figurine, purchased as a gift by her daughter, who found it at a large retailer. Once she knew there was an entire set to go with the train, it was the start of a hobby that lasts to this day.
“I’ve got an obsession,” Whitman said about her ever-growing collection. “But now I can share my obsession.”
WhitmanVille Village will be on display starting Friday during Picayune Main Street’s Christmas on the Rails. Whitman said it will continue to be available for viewing on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. until Christmas Day. Admission is free.
She would like to thank her husband for the help in setting up this year’s display, Edwards for donating use of the building and her friends.