Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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20171130 NORTH POLE CLINICVendors and entertainment added to festive display

With one flip of the switch, Dean Porter Park transforms itself into the quaint Brownsville Christmas Village.

For the eighth year, the magical Christmas Village has returned to Brownsville, this year with a record 32 cottages. The tiny villas, roughly 10-feet by 10-feet, are a look into traditional Christmas days. Each cottage is filled with holiday excitement such as dolls, elves, candy, Christmas trees and a variety of lights; even Santa and Mrs. Claus show up.

“This is our largest Christmas Village yet and we are excited,” said Jeanne Hughston, owner of 1112 Studios and marketing coordinator for the Village. “What's really different are the vendors – we have about 25 vendors this year and it gives it much more of a fair feeling.”

20171130 THE HOLIDAY MARTThe cottages make a semicircle through the park, making it a simple and pleasant walk to each one. In addition to their festive displays with colorful Christmas lighting, some of the cottages have added Christmas music. And every day, Fritter – the elf on the shelf – can be found inside one of the cottages.

“Our Elf’s name is Fritter,” Hughston said. “Just like other Elves on the Shelf, the elf has been sent to watch over all of the children and the elf flies back to the North Pole each night to report back to Santa how the children are behaving.”

While the elf may be watching over children, anybody who visits and finds him is eligible to win some prizes from Krispy Kreme. All anyone has to do to enter is find Fritter's hiding spot, take a picture in front of the cottage and post in on your Facebook page using #IFOUNDFRITTER. Here's a hint – there are many elves throughout the cottages. Fritter, however, is holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

There are some new cottages this year to add to the wide-ranging themes at the village. Among them is the North Pole Cocoa Shop #2, sponsored by Brownsville Coffee Shop #2. Jovita Chase has owned the well-known Brownsville Coffee Shop #2 for 42 years and has been serving food 24 hours a day since 1977. Chase's mom actually started the business in 1964 in downtown Brownsville on Elizabeth Street in a small wooden-frame building that previously was a four-room house.

“There was a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and I’m not sure what the fourth room was; maybe a bedroom,” Chase said. “We had to remodel it.”

The cottage takes on the idea of a cocoa shop instead of a coffee shop, with chocolate being found in nooks and crannies, with the additional touch of someone singing inside the cottage.

Another addition this year is the Nutcracker Lodge, built by the Masonic Temple Lodge in Brownsville. This cottage is filled with Nutcrackers just relaxing and enjoying the moment.

20171130 VILLAGE ACCOUNTANTSUpdates were made to the Celaya Home cottage, a representation of one of the most historic homes in Brownsville. Simon Celaya, trying to get goods to his stores at lower prices, organized the Rio Grande Railroad in 1870 and finished it’s 22.5 mile construction between Point Isabel and Brownsville in 1872.

Simon Celaya had two sons - Augustine and Jose. Augustine was a lawyer and businessman who, like his brother Jose, continued to grow his father’s assets. In 1904, Augustine designed this Victorian home for his family. In attempts at climate control, the home’s hand-made adobe brick walls are 13 inches thick and the home’s entrance is orientated toward the corner, where three polygonal bays join to form an entrance porch designed to capture the slightest Gulf breeze. Inside the home is a free-standing, curved staircase, said to be one of the most striking interior architectural features of Brownsville.

The Village is open until Jan. 1. There is no admission price and food, art and craft vendors will be set up every weekend, and some weekdays. Santa will make an appearance at the Gazebos starting at 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for complimentary photos (bring your camera).

There will also be plenty of entertainment throughout the month. Among those performing include Veronique. Veronique Medrano is a Lopez High School graduate and a product of the BISD Fine Arts Department.  After graduating from UTRGV, she released her first Tejano album titled "Encantadora" which got her nominated as Best New Female Artist at the Tejano Music Awards.  And she just recently signed on to AMI Records Latin. 

Local schools and other entertainers will also perform throughout the month of December. For more information and to see a complete schedule of entertainment, visit holidayvillagebrownsville.com.

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