CHAMPNEY’S ARM, N.L — The old twine store holds a secret.
Within the walls of this ordinary looking building in the small community in Trinity Bight is a Christmas village with more houses than Champney’s itself.
The extensive display of miniature light-up Christmas houses, buildings, churches, people and cars is the work of Alfred Pippy.
It’s his labour of love for the season.
The old store which houses his collection used to be the community’s church, which shut down years ago.
But every Christmas, since Pippy started setting up his display, people have been flocking back to the building to have a look around.
“To enjoy it, that’s it,” Pippy said when asked why he does it.
He told The Packet his hobby started about 10 or 12 years ago with a fibre optic-lit church, his favourite among the collection of about 70 buildings, growing each year.
He meticulously sets up the scene — a slightly different layout each year — on about 20 feet of tables, countless power bars underneath, and mirrors on the wall to create the impression of a scene larger than it really is. It takes him about 12 to 14 hours to complete.
He has a windmill, train track with engine, a farm complete with animals, and even a limited edition replica of Maple Leaf Gardens.
One of the centrepieces is a pond, with blue windshield washer fluid instead of water, so it doesn’t freeze in the shed. He also uses the fluid in a small waterfall fountain in the back of the scene.
Pippy also makes roads out of felt and stair tread grip tape, peppering dinkies throughout the town for children to drive along its winding roads.
He laughs when asked if his town is actually bigger than Champney’s, population 60 or so.
While his favourite is his church, and he changes the layout from year to year, he is always sure to put two houses in the corner for a makeshift ski hill.
He likes to see people enjoy his display and gets the stove going when he receives company during the Christmas season.
Pippy is already thinking about which new pieces he’d like to add next year.
But with so many houses already, there’s only one problem.
“It’s a job to know which ones I already have.”