With the flip of a switch, an entire miniature civilization comes to life — children ice skating, a moving train whistling, tree lights flashing and Santa’s sleigh flying by.
Sixty miniature ceramic houses and 200 miscellaneous pieces make up a Christmas village, with North Pole and train traveling around a 4-foot tree at “Rockefeller Center.”
Twenty-five years ago, Susan Febbraro and her husband, Tony, made it a tradition to build what they called “Sue and Tony Ville” on Thanksgiving weekend, adding new additions annually. This year’s newest addition is a life-sized talking Santa.
“Just think, this all started from a little coffee table and has grown to this scale,” said Susan Febbraro, 60, of Bethpage. “There are a lot of memories here. I do hope our kids continue the tradition.”
Wearing an elf costume, she pointed out that most of the display is now so big that they had to build a 16-foot long table for it.
At a Tupperware party at her home 25 years ago, Febbraro was given a set of five miniature ceramic houses as a hostess gift, which became some of the initial pieces of the collection. The couple added pieces throughout the years and received many as gifts.
Susan Febbraro said she tells her grandchildren, “Imagine you live in the village. There’s no crime there, no taxes, all smiles.” She then asks, “Don’t you wish you lived there?”
She says each piece is meaningful. There’s a Ford car repair shop, which stands for her husband’s many years owning a garage. There’s a hospital because her daughter Kerri is a doctor in Chicago. And there’s a bakery because she’s an avid baker.
“It’s very symbolic of my family,” Susan Febbraro said. “My family is most important to me, so I want them to enjoy it and I know they’ll love it when they see it.” They have three children -- Michael, 34, Anthony, 28, and Kerri, 37 -- and five grandchildren.
In the heart of the village, carolers surround a Christmas tree. There’s a Macy’s old-fashioned store, bowling alley, church, pet shop and kids making snow angels.
“Every piece has something to do with parts of our family’s lives,” said Tony Febbraro, 69. “Many of the pieces like the ice skating and snowball fight relate to things our kids did growing up during winter. It all ties into our fond memories with our family.”
He said they look forward to taking all the boxes down from the attic and spending 40 hours building their extravagant Christmas village.
“It’ll always be special no matter how big our children get or how far away they go,” he said. “This will always be home for them and we’ll continue this year after year.”