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Just like Rudolph's nose

Danielle Hoyer, age 2 1/2, is distracted during her pleasant visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Soroptimists’ Christmas Village on Monday. - Jim Larsen
Danielle Hoyer, age 2 1/2, is distracted during her pleasant visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Soroptimists’ Christmas Village on Monday.
— image credit: Jim Larsen

The Soroptimist Christmas Village will be open daily through Sunday, Dec. 23 to help North Whidbey residents get in the holiday mood. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 8 p.m. weekends. The location is Westgate Homes and RV Center at 34264 Highway 20, between Fakkema and Torpedo roads.

Early visitors to the 20th annual Soroptimist Christmas Village Monday gave this year’s version an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

The new location is Westgate Homes and RV Center, which provided plenty of room for Santa and Mrs. Claus to greet children inside a nice double-wide, while a model train and animated characters move around in another room.

Outdoors, small red barns house real live animals in a compact set-up that pleases parents and children. Curious llamas, skeptical goats, a huggable sheep, a friendly pony, and a garrulous turkey all welcome young visitors, most of whom run into the arms of the huggable Frosty the Snowman who oversees the barnyard activities.

“It looks a lot better this year,” said Sandy Conklin, who has visited several past Christmas Villages. She is the grandmother of 4-year-old Cody who was hugging Frosty. “This is his first year to go see Frosty. Before, he was bashful. Everything here is right together, and inside it looks so nice.”

Soroptimist volunteers on Monday were still stringing last-minute lights and otherwise adding finishing touches to the colorful decorations, while Christmas music permeated the air.

“This is a lot more work -- it’s bigger,” said Barbara Buchanan, as she strung lights on an evergreen tree. She was also concerned about one other tree that was not quite in the Christmas spirit. “I’m going to see if I can find something for that poor little tree up front,” she told a co-worker.

The Soroptimists seemed to make a special effort to celebrate the Village’s anniversary. “This is our 20th year, it’s a tradition,” said Sharleen Stroyan. “This year we have a little more room.”

Another visitor, Donna Schmidt, was holding up her 1-year-old baby, Kimberly, so she could see the turkeys. She concurred that this year’s Village is special. “I like it here a lot better, there’s more room,” she said. “And I love the way they decorated the inside.”

A candy cane lane leads to the front door and the domain of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, who take toy orders and hand out candy. After the Santa stop, kids pass through the kitchen for cookies and juice before stopping to watch the train and then heading outdoors to Frosty and the animals. “Go see the animals,” Santa urged one group of children. “The elves wouldn’t let me go out and play with the animals.”

Santa is big and friendly, but no pushover. One boy asked for a Sony Playstation 2 for Christmas, but Santa was in a bargaining mood.

“Is your room clean?” asked Santa. “Even under the bed? And you’d better cut down some of those arguments with your sister. Then we’ll see what we can do.”

Jeannette Novotny, a visitor to the area from Minnesota, said she heard about the Village and waited three days for it to open so she could bring her daughter, Jordan. “I love it,” she said.

That seemed to summarize everyone’s reaction on the Soroptimists’ 20th annual Christmas Village. It is open daily through Sunday.

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