Garlandsburg — a little holiday village nestled along the coast of New England. This little town is unique in several ways. Perhaps that is why is it so popular and why folks come back year after year.
Let me introduce you to this little village, those who are responsible for its charm, and why this village is so different from your regular small towns. Come with me now and join the tour as I take you along the streets and hills of Garlandsburg, show you the sights, make you want to spend your money in the shops, tease your senses with smells, and tingle your toes and fingers with winter's brisk breeze.
Garlandsburg was first established many years ago by Rufus and Sam Garland, two wealthy and influential brothers. They are getting on in years now and Sam has moved away from the area. The town originated with the idea of having a holiday town and since those early days it has become a destination for holiday travelers. Each year something new has been added to the village: a new shop, a bridge built over a stream, a skating pond, something. It has been a few years since many new faces have joined those who dwell in Garlandsburg, but it is not for lack of charm, for the village, as you will discover, is full of charm. It might simply be for lack of room.
Another reason Garlandsburg is so popular with holiday tourists, and why the Grand Hotel is full every night, is because of something that no other village has. You see, Garlandsburg is only open during the month of December. The rest of the year the good folks of the village move back into a nearby town where they have regular houses and employment like the rest of the population. As soon as the last one has packed up and left, Rufus Garland and his contractors set to work. The entire town is redesigned, hills are leveled, new ones built up; the coastline is altered and the stream beds are re-channeled to fit the new layout. The shops, houses and other buildings are carefully removed from their current locations and, once the new landscape for the village is completed, they are settled in their new places. As you can imagine, all this takes quite a lot of planning and work, but Rufus Garland has not grown tired of this unique hobby of his. In fact, the supervising he does and being out in the fresh sea air so much, seem to have kept him quite robust in spite of his advancing years.
Just before December 1st rolls around, the families who live in Garlandsburg pack up what they will need for the month and move back to their shops and houses. Many folks live in the rooms above their shops and have said that, since it was only for the month of December, no one minds being a little crowded. It is always an exciting day when the news is first passed around that Garlandsburg is ready for occupancy; folks hurry down to see the new layout and to discover where their shop or house has been relocated.
Each shop or house, sleigh or group of people has a story to tell about living in Garlandsburg, and everyone whom I have talked with says that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are their favorite days of the entire month. (If the name of a shop or other location is a different color, you can click on it to read the vignette about that place. Note: not many places have one written yet.)
“The crowds are fun,” says Mayor Jonah Garland, grandson of the town’s architect and founder, “but when the crowds have returned to their own towns, that is when Garlandsburg really comes alive. The local villagers have last minute shopping to do, there is skating on the pond, and a special Christmas Eve service at the church that almost everyone attends. One person must man the lighthouse at all times. And then there is Christmas Day.”
And so, let us begin our tour of this quaint little village along the coast of New England, and by the time we are through, I’m sure you will wish you could visit it in person.
Our first stop is the Hearthstone Bakery, home to Baker Stone and his family. The warm air when the door opens is full of the mouthwatering smells of hot cinnamon buns, freshly baked bread, pastries, cookies and the like. But don’t fill up too much here. There’s a cafe just down the street.
Out in front is Krisa Johnston, you met her mother and brother in the bakery just now, doing the hoola-hoop. Can you keep it going as many times as her?
Right next door is the Clockworks shop. We have to stop in and see the intricate clocks and watches Mr. Getty has, and don’t forget to set your own watch by the clock in his tower. Ah, I see Postman Owen trying to get Dr. Ketchum’s attention. It seems that the doctor is always in a hurry.
Now if you’ll take a look between the Clockworks and the Cafe, you’ll notice the Grand Hotel. Of course you’ll probably only notice the cafe sign on the side of the building from where we stand. I’m afraid that unless you have reservations, you won’t find a room in the hotel, for it has been filled since December 1st. And there’s nothing quite like a good snowfall to make you feel like a youngster again. Don’t you want to join in the fun?
Your toes are probably growing chilly so we will stop by the Grind Central Cafe. Here they serve the best hot drinks in the village, and don’t forget their soup of the day! We might as well eat a bit as the rest of the tour may take a while. When we come out you’ll probably notice Edwin Ketchum, the doctor’s eldest son, selling poinsettias. The ones he has left on Christmas Eve night will go to the church.
Oh, look up on the hill behind the cafe! That’s Mayor Garland and his little family caroling. They have fine voices. Would you like to go listen? All right. Let’s move up to the town square where we can hear better. But wait, first you should give the bell a ring; everyone does. It’s a village tradition to ring the bell when you pass by.
Ah, here we are. Isn’t it a lovely view? You can see right down over the rooftops. And if you look in the right place, yes, over there, see? That’s the lighthouse. And listen to those voices. Such a delightful song, Mayor. What? You would like my guests to pick a Christmas song? Well, what would you like?