Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Sydney Yalshevec

The Brights' Christmas village lights up the Holidays


Sydney Yalshevec

The Brights' Christmas Village inside their home.

The home of Gordon and Joyce Bright is filled with the whirring noises and hums of tiny little machines hard at work. These little mechanisms power a ferris wheel, carousel, hockey rink, country dance, a cookie shop, and several other holiday and winter themed figures.

Joyce Bright has lived in Kimball since 1969. In 1975, her and her husband started collecting things.

"When we started we also had built three dollhouses," Gordon said.

Joyce made ceramics for several years and her work is also part of the spark that got the two started in collecting. She made several of the ceramic Christmas trees that decorate the table top Christmas village as well as a nativity scene displayed in the corner of the room.

"John Deere came out with a few pieces, and John Deere were the first pieces we started collecting," Joyce said.

Gordon works for John Deere so the Brights thought it was a good idea to collect the John Deere figurines. These figures consist of small houses that light up and little villagers to place around the houses to liven things up a bit.

These figures really opened the flood gates, in a sense, for the Brights to get into their collecting.

"We started and it was all the stuff with the plastic on front where you could just see all the people in the houses, and then they got started with the movement," Joyce said.

With a collection as large as the Brights, probably over 200 pieces currently, they need somewhere to display it all. So they make room in their living room and break out the tables and extension cords to accommodate for the winter village.

"We have a couch and a recliner, the couch is at the neighbor's and the recliner is in the bedroom. All the plants, everything we move out of here," Joyce said.

The Brights use brick and styrofoam to construct the hills and landscape for their village. This year is the first year they made a ski slope. Underneath the ski slope is a tunnel for their train to run through. They place cotton on top of all the bricks and styrofoam to create the look of snow.

"The tables are sixteen foot long and then four foot wide, 16 feet by 8 feet at the bottom part of the L. This year we tried the L shape. It takes about three weeks to a month to set up," Gordon said.

The Brights hide all the cords from the different figurines under the cotton and over to power strips underneath the table. They plug everything in and connect it so that it turns off and on by two switches. There are of course the battery powered figures that must be turned off and on individually.

The setting up process is also prolonged by the getting things just right phase. The houses and other figures are moved around and adjusted until they are set up just right. It requires time, effort, and patience.

"It's fun doing it but when you throw the snow on you know you're done," Joyce said.

The Brights collect things all year. The days right after Christmas are best and they get some of the more expensive items at a more reasonable rate. However, their eyes are always open for something new, year round.

"Throughout the year, we get online accidentally, we'll get different things shipped here so we'll have it for Christmas," Gordon said.

Joyce already has a few different figures in mind that she would like to get ahold of next Christmas. Also some adjustments she would like to make to the village to enhance it.

"I have been working on the carnival section for the last few years. There is one thing I really want and it's all clear and there are two levels are people dancing. I also need more lighting for the different areas," Joyce said.

Unlike some collectors, the Brights are not picky about keeping things to scale throughout their village. They enjoy getting different items from different collections, stores, and brands. As a result of their wide range of suppliers they don't get finicky about the people all being the same size, or the other village decorations being exactly on scale. They just get what they like.

Since they have been collecting for so long, they've seen packs of 21 trees go from $4 to $12 a pack. Some of their figures are about thirty-years-old, give or take a few years. One of the oldest pieces in the village is a Santa with reindeer that used to belong to Joyce's mother.

"That Santa Claus is about fifty-some years old," Joyce said.

Sydney Yalshevec

Tiny ice skaters ride around on a frozen pond in Bright's display.

Christmas alone is not the Bright's only interest. Joyce, in particular, shows eagerness to start a Halloween village in addition to their ever growing Christmas display.

"I would really love to do a Halloween village. It's just once that would get put away the Christmas village would come out. It's a lot of work," Joyce said.

The reason behind why the Brights go through setting up this village every year is a simple one.

"We just enjoy it. It's fun for the both of us. Sometimes people stop by to look at it and they enjoy it. But mostly we just have fun with it," Gordon said.

Every year the Brights see something new they'd like to add, or think of a way to enhance their village. Sometimes they think of a new place to put lights, or a different way to arrange the train. Each year comes with a new discovery about their Christmas village and they love it.


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