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Elizabethtown woman owns extensive Christmas village collection

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By Robert Villanueva

A Ferris wheel turns near spinning tea cups and a duck hunt carnival game while skaters glide across a frozen pond in front of the Holiday Diner located near Bowlarama and Graceland.

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Stepping into the Elizabethtown home of Juanita Powell is like being transported to a special world, one where rustic fishing villages co-exist with a ‘50s community, where a Swiss chalet is nestled amid barn dances.

The Christmas village display takes up about half her living room.

“We’ve counted 133 houses,” Powell said. “That doesn’t include the little figures.”

Every so often, Powell displays her vast collection of Christmas village pieces and the accessories she’s amassed to populate her miniature world. She said she doesn’t stick to one brand or style because real houses and buildings come in all types.

“We only set up about every three years because it takes so long,” she said, noting it usually takes up to two weeks.

Friends, neighbors and visitors from as far away as Cincinnati visit when the villages are up, Powell said.

“Everybody just loves them,” she said.

Visitors, she said, enjoy looking at the pieces and discovering something new each time.

“The neighbor across the street comes by and brings her little girl,” Powell said.

School houses, churches and diners dot the seven-level setup, which rests on white fabric accented with polyfill-type material to simulate snow. The setup covers living room furniture, and the pieces have moving parts, lights and music.

A post office, fire station, lakeside lodge, library, bakery, sheriff’s station, barber shop, sign shop, chocolate factory, florist shop and apothecary are among the buildings represented in the various areas. Figurines, such as firemen, service station workers and shoppers, and vehicles, including Matchbox cars, fill the village streets.

The display even includes Santa’s toy shop and workshop.

Big name retailers are not left out, either.

Two Walmarts, two Home Depots and a Cracker Barrel can be found in Powell’s display. Her wish list includes a Lowe’s, McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC.

“I haven’t seen any of those,” she said.

Some of the pieces hold special significance to Powell. Because she used to line dance with a group, the setup includes barn dance displays, complete with dancers inside tripping the light fantastic. A seamstress shop was included because she used to sew all the time.

An accessory that is special to her is one that displays a winter animal rescue area, where elves take care of a polar bear, reindeer and penguin. As an advocate of animal rescue, Powell eventually would like to find an animal rescue building.

Powell has been collecting pieces for about 27 years but said she never dreamed she would have such a large collection.

“I just like all the lights and the glitter,” she said.

The collection started when one of her sons, Roy Jr., gave her a piece depicting a church and some church mice. He was about 14 then.

Since then Powell has received pieces as gifts as well as bought many herself.

“If it jumps out at me, I get it,” she said.

Roy Powell Sr. joked he might have to move out to the back porch sometime in the future if his wife continues to collect. Though he said the collection was “pretty neat,” he said setting up and taking down the display was aggravating because of how long it takes.

Son Brian Powell sets up much of the display these days.

“I think it’s cool,” Brian said. “Anybody who comes here to see it is just in awe.”

Powell indicated her collecting days might be nearing an end.

“I’m about to get too old for this,” she said.

On the other hand, she’s not ruling out the possibility of adding more pieces.

“We keep finding something we like,” Powell said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.

MORE ABOUT JUANITA POWELL:

  • City of birth: Renfro Valley.
  • City of residence: Elizabethtown.
  • Family: Husband, Roy; and two sons.
  • Favorite movies: Comedy and romance.
  • Favorite music: Country.
  • Favorite TV show: “NCIS,” “Vegas” and “CSI.”
  • Hobbies: Crocheting, sewing and baking cakes.

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