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(Posted 2:30 p.m., Nov. 24)

Santa officially opens Magical Village for another holiday season

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Santa Claus surveys the 15th edition of the Magical Village on the second floor of Place d'Orléans. The Village will be open during regular mall hours until Christmas Eve. Fred Sherwin/Photo


The Magical Village has amazed and mesmerized children for the past 15 years. This year it returns to the second floor of Place d'Orléans next to the RCMP recruitment centre.

The Village was officially opened on Saturday by Santa Claus himself, who got a little help cutting the ceremonial ribbon from Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely and Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais.

The Gloucester North Lions Club was also out in full force as the official keepers of the Village which includes more than 300 miniature buildings; six model railway trains including Thomas the Tank Engine;, and countless miniature figures including trees, cars and other features.

Club members started putting the Village together on Nov. 3 with the help of about 20 volunteers who gave up their time to make sure the holiday attraction was open on schedule.

The history of the Magical Village goes back to 1997, when it was first set up at the Gloucester Centre by former Gloucester Mayor Claudette Cain who wanted to establish a pet project to help raise money for the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard.

The Food Cupboard still gets a share of the proceeds generated by the Village, which last year topped the $10,000 mark, while funds are also provided to the Lions Foundation of Canada guide dog program and the Lions District A4 Multiple Organ and Retrieval Exchange (MORE) program.

With two extra days on the holiday calendar between the official opening and Christmas Eve. Village coordinator Mark Marcogliese is hoping to raise over $10,000 again this year.

Angele Charlebois was a direct beneficiary of the money raised through the Magical Village when she received her guide dog Candy in April 2010. The Lions Club sponsors a program that purchases and trains the guide dogs from a young age and matches them up with a grateful recipient.

"The day I got her I cried. She helps me so much," says Charlebois.

The Magical Village is enjoyed by young and old alike. Part of the magic is noticing new elements that you hadn't seen before or seeing old standbys like the Nutcracker Theatre or the McDonald's drive-thu that might have been forgotten.

The latest edition to the Village is a Whoville scene with several Who houses and Who villagers.

While the Village is normally manned by Lions Club members, more then a dozen high school students volunteer their time to help earn community service hours.

It's a special treat for 17-year-old Sharee Weekes who remembers her parents bringing her to the Village when she was eight years old.

"It's really neat to see the little kids react and the smiles on peoples' faces," says Weekes.

The Magical Village is open during regular mall hours until Christmas Eve. Donations can be made in any amount as well as non-perishable food items.

 

 

 

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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