The festive crew of volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to bring Laconia's annual Christmas Village to life are excited for this year's event, which will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at the Laconia Community Center. (Morgan Johnston — Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
November 21, 2017LACONIA — Families can take part in some holiday joy next weekend for the annual Laconia Christmas Village, a local tradition spanning over four decades.
For four days from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, the Laconia Community Center will have two levels of activities for people of all ages.
The Christmas Village started in 1975, and is managed by brothers Ernie and Armand Bolduc, along with their friend Bob Hamel.
A number of activities will be available downstairs for the whole family, including face painting, nail art, games, and much more. The Christmas Village itself will be on the second floor, where children can ride in Santa's sleigh, make an ornament in Santa's Workshop, meet the elf in the box, and more.
Santa will make an appearance and kids can get their photos taken with photos available for $3. There will also be a cafe offering an assortment of snack foods and drinks to visitors.
Every year, a committee organizes the event with volunteers in charge of all its different aspects. Volunteer Coordinator Morgan Johnston said a crew of dedicated volunteers have been keeping the event running for as long as it has.
"It takes hundreds of man hours to put the whole thing together," she said.
Johnston serves on the committee with her brother Jack, and said both of which started coming to the fair when they were kids.
"We kind of worked out way up here; definitely next generation to keep things going," Jack Johnston said.
That tradition continues with volunteers of many ages. Many of the volunteers are local students. Morgan said they have students who have taken part from Winnisquam (where she and her brother attended school) as well as Gilford, Gilmanton, and others.
The Johnstons said the event brings in thousands of people every year. Jack said they will see many of the same faces come through the door, sometimes multiple times over the weekend.
"We have people coming as far as California now," said Jack.
Other visitors have come from New York, New Jersey, and other areas. Jack said a lot of people are seeing the event on Facebook and making a point to come when they are visiting the area.
Morgan said she knows people who are already saying, "I can't wait to see it."
Jack said a lot of volunteers will ask to come back every year.
The Christmas Village is a nonprofit event and relies on donations from local businesses and others.
Admission is free and donations are encouraged. Donations will go toward expenses for next year's Christmas Village.
"It's been very rewarding to see the kids' faces lighten up," Morgan said. "Its great, especially for families who don't have a lot."
The four-day event will be open from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, and Friday, Dec. 1. On Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, the doors will be open from 2-5 p.m. There are also special hours on Saturday and Sunday for people who are elderly or have other special needs.
The Christmas Village is looking for more Elf Volunteers. For more information contact Morgan Johnston at by phone at 409-7191 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.