For 47 years, Hank Jorgensen packed family and close friends into his cozy, dimly lit living room in Massapequa Park each Dec. 1 for an annual unveiling.
To prepare for the occasion, the father of four made regular visits to flea markets and antiques shops for trinkets, toiling in his basement workshop year-round to make updates to the neighborhood’s source of seasonal splendor: an elaborate miniature mechanical Christmas village.
“We would do a countdown: three, two, one,” says his 41-year-old daughter, Kameo Napodano. “The switch would go on. The magic would begin.”
The collection of motorized trains, sleigh-riding Santas and miniature elves — some spinning on a phonograph — were among thousands of intricate adornments handmade by Jorgensen.
Last December, Jorgensen made his reveal at his home as normal. But just weeks later, his health began to decline due to prostate cancer, which he died from on May 10 at age 69. The display remained in his living room even after his funeral until Jorgensen’s daughters and wife, Susan, had the idea to donate it.
Now the magic of Massapequa Park has moved to Jericho, finding a new home in the newly revamped Milleridge Village, a cluster of shops near the historic Milleridge Inn restaurant.
“He always loved Christmas and he always just wanted to keep the magic alive for everybody no matter what age,” Napodano says.
The storied Milleridge Inn restaurant was Jorgensen’s favorite place to eat. The family gathered there after their father’s funeral. So when Napodano and her sisters, Kimberly, 46, and Kelly, 36, approached Milleridge management with photos of the display last summer, the staff was happy to inherit it.
“I am just very proud that they chose Milleridge for their family heirloom. I feel they just want Hank’s legacy to live on,” says Milleridge owner Butch Yamali of Merrick. “And it makes so many people happy. So many people line up to see it.”
About 200 close family and friends of the Jorgensens — many of whom visited their home each year — attended an unveiling of the display earlier this month.
“I didn’t know even what a genius he was until I see it set up someplace else,” Susan Jorgensen, 68, says. “It brings tears to my eyes because he loved Milleridge and now that everybody could get to see it, it’s beautiful.”
What would typically take Jorgensen, who worked for decades as a display carpenter including for designer Elie Tahari, a weekend to set up, required six men to pack, move and piece together at Milleridge.
“We went there, we videotaped the whole operation, we drew maps and Hank had maps, and we put it together,” Yamali says.
Workers spent about a week putting together the Christmas village in the 600-square-foot space it now occupies.
“We retrofit everything for that room,” Yamali says.
Described by his family as a meticulous perfectionist, Jorgensen felt it his responsibility to encourage people to believe in the magic of the holidays.
When her husband of 47 years died, Susan Jorgensen says she feared the magic had gone with him.
“This will be nice that people can see it for one more time,” she says. “Well, as many times as they want.”
An earlier version had an incorrect admission fee.
Hank Jorgensen’s Handmade Christmas Village
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Sunday at 585 N. Broadway, Jericho
INFO 516-931-2201, milleridgeinn.com
ADMISSION$10 per family including a photo with Santa.