11/20/11 — Budget cuts delay Christmas in the Village

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Budget cuts delay Christmas in the Village

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on November 20, 2011 1:50 AM

Santa won't be stopping by Waynesborough Historical Village this year.

Due to budget constraints and declining attendance, Christmas in the Village won't be held this holiday season.

"The basic reason why we're discontinuing Christmas in the Village is money, that's all," volunteer Arnold Leder said. "We simply don't have the funding due to a number of reasons, one being that a major contributor has pulled out this year."

Leder said it's tough raising money to operate Waynesborough Historical Village because of the slow economy.

Volunteer Richard Slozak said not as much money is being raised from the general public and other groups, yet the group's needs keep increasing. The historical association does get some funding from the city and county and a few grants, but most of that helps with upkeep of the park.

Admission to Waynesborough Historical Village is free. The charges are for weddings and special events held there, and even that's a nominal fee, Leder said.

"Operating an historical park like this and keeping the buildings up is hard," he said. "The buildings are from the 1800s and have to be repaired sometimes."

A major repair recently has been to the heating system, which cost the group $5,500. That had to come from a reserve fund, Leder said.

"It costs a lot to keep this old building up," Slozak said. "And it keeps going up. Right now we have some other needs that are a little higher priority that we need to address."

Although most of the people associated with Waynesborough Historical Village are volunteers, the group does have to pay for a bookkeeper and someone to man the visitor center desk.

Slozak said that it costs between $700 and $750 to hold the annual Christmas in the Village event, and that's a big part of the historical association's budget.

"It would be nice if we had the money to do it, but we have other things, too," Leder said. Obligations like lawn maintenance on the 150-acre park.

Then there's the fact that there has been a decline in the number of people coming to Christmas in the Village over the years.

"I think it's a number of reasons," Leder said. "We can't afford advertising, promotions, signing and billboard to let people know that we're here, that's part of the reason.

"And it's also that people aren't going to a lot of things they used to go to."

Slozak said having the event every year decreases the importance of Christmas in the Village.

"And last year we had a terrible day," he said. "It rained all day. Once we make these commitments to have people here, like the petting zoo and the train, and it rains like it did last year, it really puts a damper on everything."

Slozak thinks that having the event every three years will increase attendance.

"The bottom line is that we just didn't have the funding to do it this year," Leder said. "You do what you can do. We're not going to put ourselves in a hold like others have, that's one thing for sure.

"We'd like to do Christmas in the Village again, if not next year, then the year after."