When it comes to celebrating Christmas, it takes a village!
Each year in Ark City, a business like “Scott’s Auto Body” donates space for the North Pole display, and volunteers set it up.
“I work eight hours a day for about two weeks,” said Steven Walker, who designs the layout atop 33 tables.
From a dairy barn to a carousel, even a ski resort, this Christmas village has lots of lights, motion, and intricate details at just the right eye level for kids.
“There’s a Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!” squealed 3-year-old Kimber Raines, as she peeked through the window of a lighted house.
And who else would you expect at the North Pole than Santa himself?
“Ho ho ho!” laughed Santa, as he hoisted kids into his lap for a photo.
“When they see Santa, their eyes light up,” said Walker. “They’ll run across the room.”
Santa will even reward you with a signed ornament, if you can find all 20 stops on a scavenger hunt through the tiny buildings. It’s quite a feat to see everything on the list!
Not only are there 360 houses and businesses in the display, but 2,500 little people and cars.
The North Pole is the brainchild of Kanyon Gingher, who 12 years ago, wanted something to bring the community together.
It’s all free, unless you want your name in front of a building.. for five dollars.
“We use it to help people pay utility bills that are struggling, sometimes food for families in need,” said Gingher.
“My first impression when I walked in here at night with everything twinkling and it was full of kids, I thought this is amazing for a small town to put something like this together,” said Jeff Bowman, CEO of South Central Kansas Medical Center.
He grew up in Ark City and just recently moved back.
Others have come to the North Pole since the beginning.
“I get a little sentimental because growing up in the 50s, it brings back those memories when you had a train set with a platform, and you had your own little houses on the platform,” said Frank Mulhern, an Ark City resident for 35 years.
Each year, the display is different and bigger– a true labor of love for the elves behind it.
“It’s really just about being together,” said Gingher.
“Young and old both, they just have so much fun, and it touches my heart to know I made their Christmas,” said Walker.
The North Pole is open every Saturday and Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas at 500 S. Summit in Ark City.
The hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Children can visit Santa from 2 to 5 p.m.