This may be your last chance to see one small town in Dickinson County before it disappears. Unless, of course, someone buys it.
The town includes everything anyone could want — a movie theater, restaurants, business section, houses, dairy farm and even a grist mill. Carts, trucks, a snowplow, cows, pets and people included. Safety is not an issue, since it includes police and fire departments. There’s also Westminster Abbey and Piccadilly Station. A Marine collects for Toys For Tots.
But don’t contact your local realtor. It’s also ceramic, mostly, and 1 foot tall or less.
Until about the middle of January, the town can be seen in one of the display windows at the former Bankes Drugstore, 304 N. Broadway.
Janet Hottman has been collecting the elements of the town since about 2000 or 2001. She has about 60 buildings, she guessed, plus a lot of accessories — Santa in a plane, for example, a hot air balloon, several bridges and kids having a snowball fight. There is even a woman giving her puppy a drink from a water fountain.
Her husband started her collection.
“My husband loved yard sales,” Hottman said, so some of the collection came from there. Other pieces came from Lowe’s, Menard’s, Walmart and Joann’s, wherever Hottman found them.
All the buildings and accessories are winter-themed, with snow frosting the buildings and the ground; even the tent and campers huddled around a fire.
Many of them have lights, like the marquee on the movie theater, some of the homes and businesses, and the rotating Christmas tree in the park by the clock tower.
Several companies offer Christmas village sets, but Hottman just bought what she found, she said, not any one particular set.
Not everything she has is out, Hottman said. She tried to keep the people and vehicles from about the same era, so her Victorians are on vacation, so to speak.
Even so, it took Hottman three days to set up the three sections.
“Setting it up takes a lot of maneuvering,” she said.
The backdrop is white sheets, to indicate snow, and for water in the creeks and rivers under the bridges, she used strips of blue fabric with small stones lining the “banks.”
“You use what you have,” Hottman said, of her ingenuity.
It used to take her a day and a half to arrange it, which is one reason she’d like to sell it. It just takes more time, now that she’s in her 60s, she said, which is one reason she’s considering selling it.
The village has been a popular attraction in other places in town in previous years. Some years, she’d set it up at the Eisenhower Library and Museum.
This year, she and Rod Riffel were talking about how empty the Bankes building looked since Auburn Pharmacy moved to north Buckeye.
“Rod works really hard to keep things decorated,” Hottman said, especially to keep storefronts from looking empty.
So Hottman’s extensive Christmas village is in the north set of display windows.
Riffel’s miniature villages and Nativities are in the south half of the Bankes Building and next door at Amanda’s Bistro. Those are not for sale.
Some area businesses also are participating in the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce’s window-decorating contest. Judging for that will be Dec. 15.
Contact Jean Bowers at email@example.com.