Community People

Winter village brings Christmas joy

Holly Kaminer jokes that she may need to knock out a wall and add 10 feet onto the back of her Grovetown home.

Each year, she and her son, Woody Kaminer, turn her sunroom into a winter wonderland with a massive Christmas village, but the village has outgrown its space. Not all of the pieces even made it out of their boxes this year.

The church that started it all. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

The tradition started with one single ceramic piece that Holly Kaminer bought while last minute Christmas shopping at Regency Mall in the mid-1980s. A man was selling Dickens’ Christmas village pieces, and he only had one left— a box-less church that she’s built the scene around each year.

She started collecting pieces in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until about 20 years ago that her son joined.

“The fun is in building it,” said Woody Kaminer.

Each September, the duo begins construction; there’s a lot of prep work that goes into the infrastructure. The scene sits on 13 tables and makes and L-shape.

The layout varies each year, but the vignettes tend to follow the same theme. There’s the Polar Express train that winds around the village and tunnels under a mountain scape with people enjoying the snow. There’s a carnival with rides and games; there’s the suburbs with the houses, and the cityscape complete with businesses, theaters, a football stadium and a New Year’s Eve ball drop.

 “He’s the mastermind behind it,” said Holly Kaminer of her son, who lives right around the corner from her making it easy for them to spend evenings and weekends in the fall constructing it.

A car lot. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

 The residential section contains some pieces that will be familiar to Christmas movie buffs. This year, Clark Griswold and Ralphie Parker are neighbors as small replicas of the homes from A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are side-by-side.

If you look close enough, said Woody Kaminer, you can see the leg lamp in the Parker home.

The carnival scene began after a fellow nurse gave Holly Kaminer several pieces. The carnival features a circus, bumper car rides, a Ferris wheel and carousel. Midway games such as a dunk tank and ball toss are part of the scenery.

A massive mountain scape features a ski lift and skier and snowboarders coursing down the snowy mountain.

The Kaminer winter village

In addition to the buildings, there are tons of people figurines, miniature trees and fine details. Some of them are personal like next to the church is a wishing well; Holly and her husband eloped to Las Vegas and were married at the Wishing Well Chapel. He also sold cars, so there’s a car lot with snow-covered cars on the site.

 A few of them inspire sentimental feelings in Holly Kaminer. The church that started it all is special, and she likes the Times Square ball drop because she’s a native of Brooklyn, N.Y.

She enjoys sharing her scene with friends and family and seeing the faces of children light up as they view it.

People tell her that they see something new every time they look at it.

 The scene will come down sometime after Christmas and be packed away until fall rolls around again.

Holly Kaminer said people have asked why she doesn’t leave it up year-round, but she said that would take some of its magic away.

And it seems extra magical this year because they didn’t put the scene up in 2022 as Woody Kaminer needed to have surgery on his hands. Although they didn’t put it up last year, Holly and Woody Kaminer said they collected even more pieces.

So if she doesn’t knock out that wall over the coming months, she may take over the living room next year instead, she said.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Sign up for the newsletter here. Broad Street Beat is a column highlighting area music.

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2 thoughts on “Winter village brings Christmas joy

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of beholding this glorious masterpiece! I can attest that one visit isn’t enough to take in all of it’s whimsical splendor! My wish is that everyone could experience it!

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