Story and photos by Carol Montana
MONTICELLO, NY (December 16, 2012) – Santa Claus and his elves, Mrs. Claus and lots of helpers set up shop at Santa’s Village at Hilltop Homes again this year, celebrating the event’s 5th anniversary at the home and business of Corrinne and Dave Dunlap in Monticello.
For five years now, Santa’s Village at Hilltop Homes has attracted thousands of people, both young and old, anxious to see the over 150,000 lights synchronized to music, partake of some hot chocolate and cookies, gaze at the large balloon-type Christmas characters, ride the Hilltop Express train with its new tunnel, and visit with Santa Claus in his workshop.
On Friday, December 14 and Saturday, December 15, the months of preparation were at an end and the lights were lit as everyone took their place waiting for the children and parents and the smiles of delight.
Each child or family received a free photo with Santa. All proceeds from additional photos will be donated to Sullivan County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
Families were asked to donate a new, unwrapped toy to support the Toys for Tots toy drive spearheaded by Howard and Donna Braunstein of the M&M Auto Group in Liberty. Together with Thunder 102 radio in Liberty, the Braunstein’s have entitled their mission “No child in Thunder County should be without a toy for the holidays.” The term “Thunder Country” refers to the radio station’s broadcast area. Thunder 102 radio is a major supporter of CASA, Santa’s Village and the Toys for Tots toy drive, as well as many other charitable causes.
Santa’s Village began five years ago when Dave Dunlap, owner of Hilltop Homes, was asked where a friend could get a photo of their child with Santa. Since there was no Sullivan County outlet at the time, Dunlap decided to create one.
Five years later, thousands of people visit Santa’s Village, held two nights each year. And the village is lovingly added to year after year.
Free parking was available at Lilly’s Country Store on 17B, where visitors also were treated to free hot cocoa, coffee or tea, and a free shuttle bus provided by Rolling V Transportation took people to and from Santa’s Village.
This year, just like in 2011, Thunder 102 broadcast live on the second evening accompanied by country music duo Somerville.
Also this year, a 5th Anniversary Santa’s Village Coin was available for a small donation. Portions of these proceeds were also donated to Sullivan County CASA.
Below are some more photos from opening night, December 14.