Pop-up village: Annual cottage display lights up Dean Porter Park

December 5, 2018

Many more cottages and Holiday Village will be able to start calling itself a town.

Brownsville’s annual free display of miniature, holiday-themed cottages is back in Dean Porter Park for its ninth year, featuring 33 of the diminutive structures — 23 more than it started with in 2010. The display opened on Nov. 19 and will remain open through Jan. 1.

The lights are turned on at 6 p.m. each day and Holiday Village is open to the public until the park closes each evening. Santa Claus is on hand from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Musical performances abound, especially on weekends when choirs and other church and school groups are scheduled. Groups interested in appearing can sign up for a slot on the Holiday Village website.

Laurie Ray, Holiday Village co-chair, said several arts-and-crafts and food vendors are now setting up shop as well, which she called a welcome addition.

“ Some people make it an evening of it, because they don’t have to run out to dinner,” she said.

While Holiday Village grew rapidly its first eight years, now the organization is adding just one new cottage a year due to a shortage of warehouse space, Ray said. The city has been donating storage space at the airport, though there’s simply no more room, she said.

The downside to a good economy is a shortage of empty warehouses, and the city could easily lease the space it’s providing for free to Holiday Village, Ray said.

“ We can’t store an entire city in a warehouse,” she said. “We’ll just wait and see where we are next year.”

Ray said the city’s parks and recreation, public works and police departments are very supportive of Holiday Village each year, and that the fleet of cottages being towed on trailers from the airport to Dean Porter Park under police escort every season is quite a sight.

Holiday Village’s newest addition — Holiday in Space — is a rocketry-themed cottage involving Santa as astronaut. The “Find Fritter” elf-on-the-shelf contest is back this year, with daily prizes for young Fritter finders courtesy of Krispy Kreme.

Ray said Holiday Village has been embraced by residents and the business community alike as a valuable asset to the city.

“ Luckily we don’t have to go out and recruit a lot of sponsors,” she said. “Most often they come to us.”

Holiday Village was conceived by Brownsville resident Mellena Conner, who still helps out from time to time but has largely passed the torch to other organizers.

“ We certainly want to continue on,” Conner said. “I think it’s great for Brownsville.”

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