12/05/17 — Christmas Land

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Christmas Land

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on December 5, 2017 1:28 PM

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David Larson and Genia Brooksbank stand between the rows of their Christmas village collection.

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Santa's Village is surrounded by white mountains and lined with colorful stone walkways.

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Skiers and sledders go down the snow hill at the ski school.

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Skiers and sledders go down the snow hill at the ski school.

In the harbor, you'll see all kinds of boats and people ice fishing by an ice shanty. In the wilderness area, you'll find a hunting and camping area at the foot of snow covered mountains.

Each year, the home of David Larson and Genia Brooksbank is transformed into Christmas land, complete with various sections of villages. It takes over the couple's den, leaving one small area for recliners where they sit and take in all their hard work.

"I've been collecting the village pieces about 15 years," Larson said. "I get a couple new pieces each year."

"We moved to Goldsboro three Christmases ago from Wisconsin so he could start his own business," Ms. Brooksbank said. "That first year, we started putting up the village in June."

But now that Larson and Ms. Brooksbank have the kinks worked out, they can put the Christmas village up in several days, instead of several weeks.

When you enter the den, on the right is the wilderness area with farming, hiking, hunting and camping. There's also a rental business where the village people and visitors can rent kayaks and other sports equipment. And there's even a bait and tackle shop and a farmstore.

Dotting the land are sheep.

Behind this part of the village are snow covered mountains.

"The backdrop of mountains is handcarved by me and handpainted by Genia out of foam," Larson said. "The bottom of the wilderness area is a construction grade Styrofoam that's been painted. Inside the paint is white sand to give it crystallization to look like snow on the ground."

The wilderness part of the village is 4 by 8 feet just by itself.

The harbor area is next to the wilderness village. And on top of it is the magical North Pole. Behind both is a blue fabric with stars on it, those on the top half are glow in the dark stars.

"We have blue lights behind the white Styrofoam mountains at the North Pole," Ms. Brooksbank said. "And lights embedded in the bottom of the North Pole twinkle like stars over the harbor area."

Two lighthouses, one at each end of the harbor, provide safe travel for all the ships going in and out of the harbor.

"The water in the harbor is carved out of Styrofoam that we painted and poured liquid water on," Larson said. "It's water that you get at the hobby shop. Once you pour it, you let it harden and it really looks like water."

This is Larson's favorite part of the Christmas village.

"It was the most detailed to build," he said. "And it was the most fun to build. It has a docking area, captain's quarters, a  seafood place, a yacht club and various places to buy souvenirs."

The newest piece in the Christmas village is the cannery building in the harbor scene.

On top of the harbor is the North Pole. The mountains here have a different look than the other snowy mountains in the rest of the village. They have blue LED lights behind them to create that icy North Pole look, Ms. Brooksbank said.

"The only time I ever got into a bidding war over a piece on ebay was for the Santa Air building," she said. "It's adorabale. It's got the little elf on top with his binoculars so he can direct the reindeer as they come in and land. It's not for airplanes; it's for Santa's reindeer."

Beads going around the base of the North Pole separate it from the harbor area. Ms. Brooksbank used the beads because, after all, the North Pole is a magical place. The roads at the North Pole are also made out of the same beads.

The couple also have an old downtown scene, complete with a parade going down Main Street. There's also a man coming out of the grocery store with his groceries and another man picking up his mail from the post office. It's complete with a theater that has music, a radio station and a carousel with the old time carousel music.

"The old downtown is really all our imagination," Ms. Brooksbank said. "We put in a skating rink, a nativity scene and a church."

Up behind and to the left of the old downtown village is a mountain and a ski lodge, with people skiing down the slopes.

"We are both dog fanatics so one whole section is dog town with a boarding school, humane society, training school, dog park and a vet," she said.

The Christmas village began with four or five pieces that Larson put around his tree.

"My stepfather saw it and started doing it, too, and it became a competition," he said. "We would try to trump each other and go to the next level."

Larson and Brooksbank both like the details in each part of the village. Like the butcher wielding a cleaver chasing a dog with a steak in its mouth in front of the butcher shop.

They say each piece has its own story.

Or the Krispy Kreme store with a Krispy Kreme truck next to it, with policemen out in front eating donuts.

Ms. Brooksbank said Larson started the village before she met him, with about 60 buildings. Now the couple have around 150.

"I've told him if he buys anything else, he has to sell some real estate," she said. "We don't have anymore room to grow."

The village stays up until Jan. 19, right after Larson's birthday. Then all the houses, along with their figures, trees and other items, go into the original box until next year.

"I'm a Christmas fiend," Ms. Brooksbank said. "I love the holiday. I love what it means. And this village is relaxation. It's peaceful. I love the detail."

Sometimes at night, Larson and Ms. Brooksbank will turn off the lights in their den, turn on the village houses lights and sit in recliners just looking at the village.

"It's so quiet and pretty and we can actually enjoy the holiday a little better. It's special."

It's Christmas to Ms. Brooksbank.

"We've had only one year during the 11 or 12 years we've been together that we didn't put the village up," she said. "And it didn't feel like Christmas that year."