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Elaborate miniature village brings Christmas cheer

Sleds speed down a toboggan run, one after the other, as ice skaters move about on three outdoor rinks.

The movements of ballroom dancers are seen through a window and the soft glow of Christmas lights, as an outdoor seesaw, with a child at each end, goes up and down.

These are just some of the scenes from "Carol's Village," a miniature world of over 300 houses, dozens of sights with moving parts, regional landmarks and hundreds of twinkling lights clustered within a 12-by-15 space off the living room of William and Carol Heusinger's West Seneca home.

Carol Heusinger has been building her holiday extravaganza for 53 years, starting when she was 20 years old.

The oldest building dates back to 1914, which was under her mother's tree the year she was born. Heusinger's father and grandfather did far more modest versions. She inherited the set in 1964, when she got married.

"I thought, that is so great," Heusiniger said. "Now I am cursing my father every year, because it just keeps growing and growing," she laughed.

It took Heusinger over the course of a month to set up the display this year, which she does with the help of a granddaughter.

"You have no idea how much is involved in this," William Heusinger said. "Every house, every car, every tree is set up one piece at a time."

Santa goes over Niagara Falls in Carol's Village. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The electrical set-up, with the voltage varying from one piece to another, is a time-consuming endeavor. So, too, is tying many of them into a remote where they can be easily turned on and off. Then there's packing everything up when it's over, and storing the hundreds of pieces in the basement until the next Christmas rolls around.

"It's a lot of work, and a couple of years ago I said I'm not doing it anymore," Heusinger said. "But Madison, my 12-year-old granddaughter, said if I didn't do it then it wouldn't be Christmas. She's blackmailing me, so every year it goes up."

Carol Heusinger shows off Carol's Village, her little Christmas world that has taken over a room in her house in December for the last 53 years, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. The tra… 

Both Heusingers admitted it wouldn't be Christmas for them either without the display going up.

Setting up a Christmas tree in the back of the room is the starting point. The tree itself is a whirl of twinkling lights and turning ornaments.

Niagara Falls, created over an old wooden icebox in the right-hand corner of the space, features a small Santa going over the falls with the Maid of the Mist below.

Nearby, a train moves under and around a hill. It's fitting, since Heusinger's miniature world recalls a train set with dioramas.

The largest and longest piece is a slightly curved ski slope made to represent Kissing Bridge. A billboard nearby advertises the Shriners, to which the Heusingers belong. Other signs promote businesses where they or other family members have worked or owned.

The Coca-Cola bear moves on skates, a hot dog stand with a wiener turns in a circle, a snow angel flaps arms and legs, and there's a replica of the Olive Branch Family Restaurant in West Seneca, the Heusingers' favorite place to eat.

At right is Kissing Bridge, one of several local landmarks included in Carol's Village. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Amusement rides at the Erie County Fair, a New Era Field that features a roar from Bills fans, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and the Sabres rink with three Zambonis on site are among the local attractions featured in her display.

"There used to be a little boy next door who came over here and just looked at it," Heusinger said. "He saved his money and bought me a Zamboni, and today Eric Doering is driving a Zamboni as an ice technician for the Sabres."

There's also some naughty with the nice: Heusinger shows off a nude Santa behind the door of a small house.

Of course, what would a kitschy display be without Elvis -- and Heusinger doesn't disappoint.

The Elvis Casino features The King himself singing a Christmas song with a touch of the remote.

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