STAFFORD COUNTY — Christmas Miracle Village is Stafford County’s shining light, a glow on the flat prairie.
The Christmas Miracle Village is eight miles south of Great Bend on U.S. 281, just south of the Barton-Stafford County line. More than a dozen individual displays portray Christmas and holiday scenes illuminated by thousands of lights from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday through Dec. 25.
“It’s our way to share a Christmas gift for everyone else and provide a happy Christmas memory,” said co-organizer Rita Vredenburg. “We hope everyone enjoys it, especially the children.”
Deb Clothier, Vredenburg’s sister, is the other organizer. Rita’s husband, Robert; and Clothier’s daughter, Amanda Wright of Great Bend, provide assistance.
The Christmas holiday light display is a constant topic of discussion for Vredenburg’s extended family.
“We work on it all-year round,” Vredenburg said. “It’s always fun to keep new things going in. By October, we’re working on it all the time.”
The displays are ready to go by 6 p.m., but it takes up to two hours to pump air into the inflatables and make sure everything is in its proper place.
New characters and displays showcase Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a Walt Disney display featuring Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. There are new angels, a military tribute and several new Santa Claus displays.
“The Disney display has been popular and people like the Bear Rustic House,” she said. “The Grinch House is a good display and a Polar Bear display has been popular.”
Volunteers serve hot popcorn and hot chocolate. More than 500 people have seen the Christmas Village lights. More than 1,200 visited last year.
“We’ve enjoyed some pretty good nights and we’re looking forward to a big weekend,” Vredenburg said.
Santa Claus and his elves make regular appearances, thanks to the work of Hal Kasselman.
Straub International has donated a 4-wheel cab and trailer. A handicap ramp and remote scooter is also available.
“Hal has been a wonderful help,” Vredenburg said.
There is ample parking on the east side of U.S. 281. There is no admission, but donations are accepted to pay for expenses. It takes a few minutes to walk the route.
The name of Miracle Village is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
The magical display delights hundreds of people who stop during the holiday season. More than a dozen individual displays portray Christmas and holiday scenes illuminated by thousands of lights from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 25.
Rita Vredenburg and her husband Robert started the Christmas lighting display to provide some holiday joy for children in foster care in Amarillo, Texas in 2004.
“We started the Christmas Miracle Village in Texas in 2004 dedicated to giving special Christmas memories to children in foster care and shelters,” Vredenburg said. “Some of those children had gone through so many bad things, it gave them a time to laugh, enjoy the lights and smile. Hundreds of children and families toured each year.”
The Vredenburgs’ work made them understand how some of the young children did not know the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth.
“When we started talking about mangers, we learned that some of the children did not know the Christmas story,” she said. “It gave us the opportunity to share that story.”
Many of the Nativity scenes and animated displays were purchased from the former Christmas Fantasy Village, a rural Great Bend attraction started by Bob and Carol Martin.
“Several people remarked how they had missed Fantasy Village and how visiting it was a part of their family tradition,” Clothier said. “There are a lot of beautiful lights. We want to make sure everyone can enjoy a Christmas holiday lighting experience. We enjoy seeing people enjoy Christmas. We hope to continue making Christmas memories for the children.”
The holiday scene is available online at christmasmiraclevillage.com.