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A Look Inside: Christmas Village

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 10:27 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - For more than three decades, thousands of people have kicked off their holiday season, flocking to the opening night of Christmas Village at Irvine Park with their families on Thanksgiving night. So how does a village that features more than 100,000 lights and 300 displays piece together to bring so much joy to the community.

Kevin Sweeney with Chippewa Falls Parks & Recreation says, “Typically the Christmas Village is six weeks of set up and six weeks of tear down. Without the volunteer effort from the community, Christmas Village, we wouldn’t have the manpower to do that. We have a large group of volunteers who are really talented that help us with hanging wires, structure, everything involved with Christmas Village, the community is hugely involved in it.

“And we have to get 11 and 12 before we get to the gate over there before the driveway.”

Chippewa Falls High school softball coach Jared Faherty fondly remembers going to see the village with his dad Bill, former Chippewa Falls Parks & Recreation Director.

“This was the vision that he had to have a Christmas Village where people come through for free and to see just a great Christmas display through the holiday season. And I remember being about the age of my daughter setting these things up and coming through here so yeah, it’s pretty cool for me to keep having groups come up and help,” says Faherty.

On this volunteer day, Faherty’s current softball team took part in Project Redbird, a chance for the girls to show their appreciation to Cardinal nation for all their support of Chi Hi athletics.

“It’s a great thing for our community and to come down and help out and know that most of these girls have gone through this Christmas Village for years growing up, seeing it and it means a lot to help out and give back to make it easy for the community to pull together to have this great thing for really our whole area,” adds Faherty.

For seniors Emme Bergh and Hannah Aldrich, who like their teammates have been coming to Christmas Village all their lives, they enjoy having a hand in the behind the scenes work of watching it all come to life.

“This is really a great atmosphere for the entire community come through and see. There’s definitely a lot of pride taken for all those who help set up and it’s such a huge thing for Chippewa Falls and even Eau Claire to come and see this,” explains Bergh.

And for Sweeney, he is a frequent visitor to the village during the holidays. He embraces the opportunity to reap the rewards of the hard work and dedication of so many volunteers to keep a Chippewa Falls tradition going strong.

“It’s a lot or pride. It brings a smile to everybody’s face, listen to the kids giggle and laugh. A young couple holding hands walking through the displays. People have proposed here in the park with Christmas Village and it’s exciting to see that for sure... I never miss it,” says Sweeney.

Following Thanksgiving, the 2021 Christmas Village will be open daily from 7 am until 9:30 pm through January 1st. On Christmas Eve, it’s open until midnight. Christmas Village if free, however donations are appreciated. There is a donation box in the village to place donations. Click on this link for more information, Christmas Village.

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