Since its inception in 1998, the Gloucester North Lions Club Magical Village has become a unique holiday tradition, attracting hundreds of people every year while raising tens of thou-sands of dollars for local foodbanks.
And thanks to a couple of relative newbies to the club, the Village will continue to attract people and raise money for years to come.
|Leanne Moffat checks out the fire station with her son Sebastien as a model train goes by. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
It had been rumoured that this would be the final year for the Village which is made up of more than one hundred miniature buildings and figurines, thousands of brightly coloured lights and five model trains, but thanks to a commitment made by Robert Toupin and Nancy Wolstenholme the lights will stay lit and the trains will keep running for the foreseeable future.
“There’s no way we were going to walk away,” says Toupin who will be taking the lead on the Magical Village next year. “We have to keep it going for te kids. I mean we do it to help support the food banks, but we really do it for the kids. To see their faces light up when they see the trains and all the minature houses, it’s really very special.”
Last year, over 2,000 people passed through the Magical Village, leaving over $13,000 in donations. Another $2,000 was collected fom various sponsors, bring the total amount of money raised to over $15,000.
As in years past, the funds were split between the Glouceter Community Food Cupboard, the Orléans Cumberland Community Resource Centre food bank and Camp Banting.
Judging by the number of people who past through the Village during a one hour period last Friday, they shouldn’t have any trouble matching last year’s amount.
A number of the people, like Leanne Moffat, were seeing the Village for the first time.
“This is so cool. It’s very well done. Very festive,” said Moffat, who was there with her six-year-old son Sebastian.
Naz Abdulrob was another first timer. He noticed the Village set up across from the Foot Locker store as he was passing by with his wife and his four kids.
“This so nice for the kids and adults too. It is very beautiful. From now on we will come back every year,” said Abdulrob.
Edith has been bringing her 10-year-old grandaughter Ciara to the Magical Village every year since she was little.
“My favourite part is just looking at all the houses,” said Ciara.
The Magical Village was created by former Gloucester Mayor Claudette Cain in 1998.
When the city amalgamated in 2001, ownership of the Village was handed over to the Gloucester Food Cupboard which in turn handed it over to the Gloucester North Lions Club in 2005.
The Magical Village is open Wednesday to Friday from noon to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except on Dec. 23 when it is open from noon to 8:30 p.m. and Christmas Eve from noon to 5 p.m..
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