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Christmas in miniature

Anyone looking to get into the Christmas spirit can find carnival music and the hum of a music box mingle with a recorded child’s voice exclaiming, “Oh look mommy!” at miniature zoo animals the Whitman Ville Christmas Village.

This year the annual display is filled with music and ceramic figures frozen mid-Christmas carol, pulled by magnets in a waltz across a miniature dance floor or in a horse and buggy on the streets of the Edwardian era themed decorative village.

The village entails tables of snow-laden houses and miniature streetlamps that fill a storefront.

“Can you imagine at night the people coming alive in the little village? Don’t you wish you could jump in there with them?” said the display’s owner Marie Whitman.

Whitman began her Christmas village collection 30 years ago with a porcelain train gifted to her by her daughter. After years of collecting, her display outgrew the front porch of her home and seven years ago, Whitman began to offer a public display.

The annual offering is free to visit and available for viewing for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It takes Whitman two weeks, along with some help from her husband Bill and her friend Diane Richard, to set up the village and lights.

The village is laid out like a real town, with the police station near the pool hall, the best shops clustered together, the dairy next door to the eggnog factory and a cemetery behind the old church. Whitman’s commitment to creating a realistic vision of a Christmas village means that sometimes she makes pieces she cannot find. She sculpted tiny headstones for her church cemetery and cut paper to create a runway at the airport.

Whitman’s favorite piece is the Nutcracker ballet—a theater that rotates four different dance scenes from the classic Christmas ballet. She likes pieces with moving components, including the miniature elephant on top of a carousel with ears that wiggle and a hula-hoop that spins. There’s also a tiny skier that travels down a snowy slope. Maintaining the moving miniatures requires double-checking batteries and gluing broken pieces back together.

Offering the display annually depends on a donated venue, and this year Jamie Boe cleared out a storefront for Whitman to use.

The display will always be free for the public to visit, Whitman said.

“There’s no place around here that kids can go that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg,” Whitman said. “This is my way of having a place people can go.”

The collection encourages visitors to employ a child’s perspective to look through windows and examine the small details, said Richard.

“I’d like to shrink into a little person and hang out over there by the carnival rides. It’s a fantasy land,” Richard said.

This year, Whitman is collecting donations for the Roseland Park Baptist Church’s youth ministry.

The display is located at 1125 Highway 43 N., Suite I and will be open from 5 p.m. to 7:30 every day except for Sunday until Dec. 25. For more information, contact Whitman at 601-799-1093.