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  • Writer's pictureGayle Albertini

A magical Christmas Village ushers in the season.

People enjoy Christmas traditions. Some decorate the Christmas tree, hang the stockings by the chimney with care, and exterior lights to illuminate the sky. But Bill Houston’s Christmas tradition starts with setting up his Christmas Village. With over 1800 pieces, it’s more like a city than a village!

In 1984 Claudia, Bill’s wife, surprised him with his first Dickens Village set for Christmas, which was the start of Bill’s Christmas village collection. Bill has been growing and researching Dickens Villages for 38 years. There are 331 lighted buildings, 21 churches, and many different themes added throughout the years. The houses have 18 animated figures such as ice skaters and dancers. With a different theme each year, the trains and trolleys add to the magic of the village. There is even Buckingham Palace with the royal guard marching in the yard.

Each Christmas Season Bill and a friend set up new themes which require around three weeks to complete. Buildings and animated figures are individually wired and coded to ensure they work properly. His Christmas city takes the entire Carolina Room to accommodate the size of his display. All buildings, streetlights, and other attractions are lit and provide a charming warm, old-time Christmas adventure.

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