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Christmas village brings cheer

Photos by Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealPhotos by Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

Photos by Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealPhotos by Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

More than 20 years ago Karen Lantz-Feith, who was living in New York at the time, received an ornamental building as a Christmas present from her sister.

While she appreciated the gift, she didn’t consider the replica of New York City’s Chocolate Shoppe to be anything more than a holiday ornament.

“I didn’t even know what a Christmas village was,” she said.

It wasn’t until she visited a shop in Massachusetts that she saw her first village assembled.

“Oh my gosh, it was so beautiful,” she remembered.

But her small apartment wouldn’t accommodate anything like that. So she just kept the one piece for more than a decade.

That changed nine years ago.

“When I moved to Nevada, into a house in Carson City, I started collecting them,” she said.

She bought them piece by piece and sometimes a bunch at once. Today, she has amassed 51 buildings, a dozen of which are New York City landmarks.

Among the historic sites she has are St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where first responders took refuge after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Empire State Building, Radio City Hall and Times Square with a mirror ball that drops down.

She also has a ski village and other buildings and stores, complete with landscaping and people walking around.

“Part of the thing that really makes it special are the little figures doing different things and the little trees,” she said. “It really gives it some dimension.”

It takes her three days to assemble each year, starting the day after Thanksgiving.

“It gets put together in layers, and it gets taken down in layers,” she said.

She leaves it up until January or February, and is known to friends and neighbors for it.

“A lot of my friends bring their kids over to see it,” she said. “At night it looks just like Carson City at night – all lights.”

And although she has stopped adding to her collection, unless she finds a historic New York City landmark, the village changes somewhat each season.

“I get such joy in doing it,” she said. “Once I get it up, I start looking at it and seeing the things I’ll do differently next year.”