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OGDEN CHRISTMAS VILLAGE A LONG TRADITION

Union Station in 1938 was decked out in holiday cheer to greet travelers.

By ANNIE ROE

UNION STATION BLOGGER

Christmas is just around the corner, and Ogden has been getting ready since November. You can see lights downtown, trees in windows, and holiday decorations wherever you go.

Christmas village, now, is the centerpiece of Ogden’s holiday decorations, but years past saw some impressive displays all over town. Major buildings used to have their own displays, including Union Station.

One of Ogden’s holiday traditions is Christmas Village. It grows bigger each year and is cherished by families and Ogden residents. It’s been an annual event since the 1960s.

The first Christmas Village was in 1962, and the idea of Jerry Green. After seeing a disappointing Christmas parade with his son Tom, he developed the idea, received funding, and planned the event. It has now become a tourist attraction, and there are certainly no more disappointed children when it comes to Christmas celebrations.

The early 1980s saw the downtown Hof Winterfest, complete with a snowman contest that included this interesting penguin.

One of the hardest challenges Mr. Green faced was covering a giant missile that used to stand in the park where Christmas Village is. It was a tribute to Thiokol Corporation, which made missiles in Box Elder County, but didn’t exactly say “Christmas.”

However, with a bit of ingenuity, he came up with a solution to cover it with a giant 70-foot Christmas tree. The fire department had to help when the time came to finish decorating.

Several days before Christmas Village was supposed to open, Mr. Green tested the giant tree’s lights. They shorted out the system. However, with little notice, it was fixed the opening day.

There was no time to test the lights before Santa turned them on after the repairs had been made. Mr. Green was very nervous, but all the lights turned on and people were amazed.

Ogden has other Christmas celebrations that have come about and evolved such as the Christmas Tree Jubilee (which used to be held at Union Station and is now at the Eccles Conference Center) and the annual performances of The Nutcracker.

Christmas Tree Express in Ogden’s Union Station grand lobby.

My family’s Christmas traditions are linked to Ogden’s. Every year we go to Christmas Village on Christmas Eve. My sister and I have sung there with our school choirs. We celebrate the December birthdays in my family by going and seeing a performance of the Nutcracker. I love these traditions and it’s interesting to know the backstory.  I can’t wait to see what holiday customs Ogden will have in the future.

Happy holidays!

Permanent link to this article: http://theunionstation.org/ogden-christmas-village-a-long-tradition/

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