said Christmas comes but once a year hasnt paid a visit
to the National Christmas Center in Paradise, PA, located on Rt. 30 just
6 miles outside of Amish territory in Lancaster, PA. Here you can relive
the magical memories of Christmas year round. And what place is more fitting
than Lancaster County, which is home of the earliest documented Christmas
tree in 1821? The museum is a must see for the child in all
of us. The ride alone on Rt. 41 through scenic PA is well worth the trip.
the moment you step foot in the door, you realize that you are entering
an enchanted world as your senses are filled with the sights and sounds
of Christmas. Your imagination takes over as you expect the snow to start
falling and are almost certain that you can smell the Christmas dinner
cooking. For those of us "young" enough to remember, you can
practically see your childhood Christmas unfolding before your eyes in
the 1950's Christmas scene complete in every detail down to the old-fashioned
TV set in the corner. The wax statues, made from a unique process called
life casting, almost appear to step out of the scenes. Antiques from each
period depicted add to the realism.
are you will find something that reminds you of your Christmas Past as
the museum has antiques and collectibles as far back as the 1800's. The
hallway is lined with wall to wall Santas (over 500 of them) filling every
nook and cranny. St. Nick is depicted in every way imaginable through
the years, including the Belschickel, Pennsylvania's earliest version
In addition, the museum houses toys and Christmas trees through out history.
So if you ever wondered where that giant aluminum tree with the colored
spinning wheel from the late 60's went - its right here. Actually, there
are 10 of them. (Some things never get thrown out that probably should
be.) In fact, if you have some old Christmas memorabilia lying around
gathering dust, maybe you should contact the museum as they take donations.
You never know where it might turn up.
you enter Santa's workshop room you can't help but gasp with delight.
The animated characters are busily preparing for the "big day".
The scene is reminiscent of the world's largest music box and it is all
but impossible to take in it all in a single quick viewing, as there is
action every where. The fantasy continues as you then enter the animated
storybook village of Tudor Town, where the story of unfolds of an old
English town filled with animals learning the true meaning of the season.
What Christmas would be complete without an elaborate train set filling
an entire room? The huge recreation is the envy of any model train enthusiast.
The ceiling is decorated to look like the bottom of a huge Christmas tree
making it all the more impressive. Rows and rows of trains travel in and
out of many tiny Christmas Villages.
journey continues from the magical to the miraculous as you suddenly find
yourself 2000 years back in time walking the path of Mary and Joseph through
the realistically recreated streets of the Roman Empire toward Bethlehem.
Historically accurate replicas of clothing, buildings and artifacts help
make the scenes more realistic. The sand and stones crunch beneath your
feet as you stroll along and you begin to move from spectator to participant.
Sounds of the languages spoken during that time fill the air and you learn
of the danger of bandits and wild animals that would have made your journey
more treacherous. Your journey finally ends with a life-sized nativity
that conveys the true meaning of Christmas.
Any time you wish to recapture the Christmas spirit and relive the joys
of childhood, visit the National Christmas Center. In a world filled with
high tech wonders, this is a real nostalgic visit back to a simpler time.
Its bound to cure the Grinchiest Grinch and the Scroogiest Scrooge.
The area also offers many other nearby attractions, as well as many restaurants
and quaint hotels. It is the perfect place to spend the day (the tour
takes about 1 -2 hours) or an entire weekend. Just be sure to bring the
kids or just bring the kid in you. A good time will be had by all.