All aboard for Christmas Village: Oak Harbor holiday tradition alive and well

Seven-year-old Megan Croft hangs a snowflake ornament on a tree while helping her dad, Home Depot store manager James Croft, set up for the 2010 Christmas Village. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Seven-year-old Megan Croft hangs a snowflake ornament on a tree while helping her dad, Home Depot store manager James Croft, set up for the 2010 Christmas Village.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Commercials tell us that “more saving, more doing” is the power of Home Depot. They neglect to mention the store’s ability to put together a whimsical winter wonderland for under $2,000. But perhaps that power stems more from the giving spirit of the people in Oak Harbor.

The Christmas Village will take place this year at the Blue Fox Drive-in near Oak Harbor. The Village, which was originally put on by Soroptimist Club, lost sponsorship in 2005 and was non-existent for the next four years. In 2009, Home Depot store manager James Croft, who was raised on North Whidbey, moved back to the island and was saddened to learn that the Village was no longer taking place. He suggested to his co-workers that the store take on sponsorship of the Village and Soroptimist members generously sold their past collection Christmas decorations and supplies to the employees for the bargain price of $1.

Croft along with a team of about 40 volunteers have been planning the Village all year. This Saturday, they put the finishing touches on the festive displays.

“There are more decorations, and the Village is even more beautiful this year,” Croft said. New activities to the Village include a hay ride that runs along the lit-up go-kart track and train rides, both of which cost 50 cents. Other activities for people to enjoy include listening to carolers, sitting around a fire, sipping on hot cider, munching on cookies, playing with a train set, meeting Mr. and Mrs. Claus, the Grinch, a gingerbread man and Frosty the Snowman, visiting alpacas, sheep and chickens in the petting zoo and decorating ornaments.

Admission into the Village is free and the money collected from the hay and train rides, along with any other monetary or food donations, will be divided between the North Whidbey Help House and the American Cancer Society.

Home Depot’s Orange Embrace project coordinator Deb Alberts said last year an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people came through the Village, and this year she’s hopes that number will increase.

“When James comes up with ideas, we can’t say no,” she said. “We threw up Christmas, so we need people to come look.”

Dates are from Friday, Dec. 17, through Thursday, Dec. 23. Hours are 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays and noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Michael Croft, 4, admires a model train set inside the Christmas Village.

Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

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