Long’s Christmas Village lights up her house and her life this time of year

It started 29 years ago with a little ceramic cottage made by her then-16 year-old-daughter.

That cottage would mark the beginning of a lifelong Christmas project for Judy Long of Home, Pa.

After receiving that cottage from her daughter, she began to buy other cottages to sit beside it. What started as something small, soon grew into what she refers to as her Christmas Village.

After moving to Pennsylvania, Long purchased a larger cottage to add to her collection. With each year, 
her passion for collecting cottages grew.

With her collection growing larger by the year, she knew that she would need a place to set it up, so she decided to set it up in the dining room.

But she soon discovered that a little assistance was needed, so she looked to her husband Ed.

In support of his wife's Christmas hobby, Ed built an L-shaped table for the dining room, which takes up two walls. Each table is 13 feet long and 4 feet wide.

A second floor has been added to the table to give Long more space to organize her collection. It is 13 feet long and 2 feet wide — also L-shaped.

The process of setting up the village takes about a month, Long said, adding that she takes a week off for vacation and uses that vacation time to start setting up her village.

It takes three additional weeks to get the village the way she likes it and everything in the right order.

Long does the work herself and said that she loves every minute of it.

Her village consists of a variety of cottages including: a Wal-Mart store, a Lowes store, a toy store, an opera house, a sewing store, a cheese factory, a post office, two churches, three train stations, a firehouse, a police station, a pharmacy, a pet shop, an elementary school, a high school, some farm scenery and a water wheel.

On the one side of the village is what she refers to as the "water side."

The water side has a ceramic creek with a boat house, a bait shop, an ice skating rink, a fish market and a BBQ shop.

To liven things up a bit, the village has tiny figures of people all around it, and Long enjoys moving them to different areas.

A couple of the figurines include a Salvation Army bell ringer, a cameraman, a bride and groom and some children.

There is also a covered bridge, little cars and a train that goes all the way around the entire village.

She has also added a wooded scenery, which includes a log cabin on a snowy mountain 
that she made out of Styrofoam.

On the side of the mountain, there are a couple of children riding on a sled. Surrounding the cabin are little pine trees.

In the woods stands a tiny hunter searching for a deer, and along the mountainside is a tiny little fox.

Long's daughter, Trish, helped out by making a little road out of black foam.

Long says that her village brings her great enjoyment, adding that every year, she sets it up differently.

When it comes to purchasing the pieces for her village, Long said she has gone as far as Altoona and the surrounding areas to find pieces.

She has also purchased a few from Wal-Mart, Sears and Joann's Fabric.

Some of the items were even picked up at flea markets and others at yard sales.

She said one of her aims is to make the village look as real as possible.

Her project is the one thing she said she looks forward to every Christmas, and she enjoys every bit of it.

For Long, it is one that she will never give up on. It is a Christmas tradition to put together this village, and one day, that tradition will be passed on to a younger generation.