Friday, December 12, 2008

It Takes a Village

Koziar's Christmas Village in Bernville, PA to be more specific. I found this place by Googling "Christmas Festival" and my zip code. So if you aren't anywhere near The Middle of Nowhere, PA - you can try that technique to find something good wherever you are.

Apparently other people around here already knew about the Christmas Village, my neighbors were going tonight with a church group and my friend in Pottsville had been there before, but I was in the dark - which isn't all that surprising.

Bernville is outside of Reading, near the airport. It took about an hour to get there from our place. I had been told that it is quite a dramatic sight to come over a hill and see the lights. So, of course, for about 5 miles, we proceeded over every hill with bated breath. And then, there it was...and quite dramatic indeed.

Of course, I had forgotten to explicitly check the hours of operation for Fridays (we had originally planned to go Wednesday, but were rained out). So we were there about 15 minutes before they opened at 6 (M-F 6-9 and S-S 5-9:30). Oops.

Luckily this gave us extra time to go back to the car for the hats and gloves that everyone thought they didn't need, but really did. The line moved quickly once the gates were opened and admission was pretty reasonable - $7 for adults and $5 for kids under 12.

The vast majority of the displays are outdoors, so tonight, when the temps were around freezing, it was pretty nippy out there. Luckily there are a few places to duck into, get some hot chocolate or hot apple cider, and warm up before you go back for more.

It is difficult to fully convey what there is to see. Lots and lots of lights. Lots and lots of characters - from the Peanuts, to the Flintstones, to Sesame Street - the whole gang is there on what look to be hand-painted displays. There is a path to follow that meanders through all of the displays. Music is playing.

There are little tableaus (I think that is the appropriate word) of toy shops and candy shops and other Christmas Scenes. Some were mildly disturbing, but most were cute. There is a dancing thing that sort of made my skin crawl and Sprout proclaimed a number of things - especially those with moving dolls - to be "creeeeepy".

Rudolf and Frosty were hanging around for pictures, resulting in a historic moment when my little Tater decided it would be OK to have his picture taken with BOTH Frosty and Rudolf (this is the boy who has been terrified of dressed-up things for his entire life).

There are also two impressive train set-ups, one outdoors and one indoors. The indoor one was huge and, you know, indoors - which was a plus at the point where I could no longer feel my toes.

Named one of the top ten attractions in PA as well as the Best Outdoor Christmas Display in the World (!), the kids proclaimed it to be "Awesome" - even Sprout, who I was told might be too old to appreciate the kitchy nature of the whole scene.

Tater said we should go back next year and the next year and the next year. So that is pretty much the best endorsement you are going to get.

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