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McKinney resident builds 175-square-foot Christmas village in home
Chris Beattie/Staff photo - McKinney resident Lynn Windle has on display a 175-square-foot Christmas village in an upstairs room at her home. She started building this edition of the light-up, multi-section village late last year.
Days before Christmas, there's a lot stirring - much more than a mouse - at Lynn Windle's house.
Perhaps North Texas' largest private Christmas village is ready for viewing upstairs in her McKinney home. Windle's Winter Wonderland - a 175-square-foot display with more than 100 lighted and animated pieces - has been a decade-plus in the making.
"This is the biggest it's ever been," said Windle, who's been upping the village size since 1999. "I couldn't even begin to say how many hours I've spent on this one."
Other "villagers" adorn their mantel or window front with a cotton snow blanket and a few small buildings. Windle filled a 20-foot-by-12-foot room with scaled scenic mountains, an ice skating rink and marketplace, for what looks more like a miniature Christmas metroplex.
"I told my husband he had one year to put his media room up and he didn't," Windle says matter-of-factly. "So Labor Day 2011, I started putting my village together."
Through unassuming double doors, after a quick on switch, one enters into another, more cheerful world - with colored lights, Christmas tunes and a flying Santa. A train, ski lift and golf course twine together different sections - Celebration Square, Starlight Plaza, Silver Bell Bay - for a holiday card-esque immersion.
"The one at North Park (in Dallas) is probably the largest I've seen," Windle admits. "But I belong to a lot of villaging groups, and this is probably the biggest private one like this, with scenery, in the region."
Construction of her latest edition began late last year, but the mega village has been in the works since 1998 when Windle received Bob's Chowder House, the first of hundreds of pieces. The Country Inn, school and small complements were next, and her father built a platform for the then-mini village. "I went nuts after that," Windle said.
Each year saw an added particle board, extra space and more village accessories. Windle became likely a top customer of Dept. 56 and Lemax, two major snow village brands. What she didn't get from friends and family she bought at after-Christmas sales.
By 2004, in Rockwall, she and her husband had replaced their dining room furniture with village structures and platforms. Windle's yearly exhibit - mostly just for close friends and relatives - got bigger by the building.
Windle furthered it via her personal touch, a mixture of sentiment and craftiness. The central business district, which greets viewers as they walk to the village middle, includes a music shop - like that which the Windles owned in Rockwall - as well as a dressmaker shop because of Windle's affinity for needlework. Now realtors, they added a real estate agency to the colorful, telling array.
Asked to pick her prized piece, she contends, "That's not even a fair question."
"When I'm working on it; it's all my favorite part," she adds. "Everything has some meaning to it."
Similar Halloween villages are second-most popular, followed by spring and summer villages more common in Europe, she said. Windle stays involved with fellow villagers via Facebook and websites, and in the past went to villager meet-ups.
Her growing village used to take between Halloween and Thanksgiving to create. One year, she broke a bone in her hand while drilling holes for the lights' wiring. Laid off in January, Windle then had enough time for this year's creation, nearly double the size of her last village.
Windle hopes to one day join her and other villagers' creations to together decorate a donated store front. Admissions could run for several months and benefit local charities, she said.
For now, the village is simply up for a seasonal gander. Windle is opening the display to the public this weekend, with viewings and a holiday bazaar at her house 2-7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Guests will present and sell their own wares between admiring Windle's Winter Wonderland.
They'll see snowy trees dotting a mountainous valley landscape that winds around the upstairs room. They'll glimpse a row of vendors lining one village section, inspired by McKinney's Third Monday Trade Days.
What they won't see is a glass-topped, see-through ocean or glow-in-the-dark train tunnel. Those pieces Windle just didn't have room for yet.
But there should be plenty stirring, likely in and out of the Windle household, for winters to come.
"A village is never done," she said. "You're always thinking about what you can do differently, what you can add."
For more information, contact Windle at email@example.com.
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