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Bring the family

An enchanted visit

By David Mehegan
Globe Correspondent / November 28, 2009

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WHO: David Mehegan, wife Julianne, and their granddaughter, Mary Ella Carter, 2 1/2

WHAT: The Enchanted Village

WHERE: Jordan’s Furniture, Avon

I remember as a child being taken to see what then was called the Enchanted Village of St. Nicholas, at the Jordan Marsh store downtown. It was a roomful of colorful moving figures of children - indoors and out - in a Victorian winter street scene. Commissioned from a Bavarian toymaker, the village was a Boston tradition from 1958 until it closed in 1972. Jordan Marsh reopened it for a few years in the 1990s, but eventually it was exiled to City Hall Plaza, then to the Hynes Convention Center. Jordan’s Furniture bought the village at auction last May, restored it, and reinstalled it this month at the Avon store. It’s free.

The village has about 20 storefronts: a newsdealer, a hotel, a candy shop, a barbershop, a dress shop filled with children moving gently while roasting chestnuts, decorating a tree, drinking milkshakes, trying on clothes, or riding a bicycle. The soundtrack includes the usual “White Christmas,’’ etc. One clever touch: Now and then, snowmaking machines set up a blizzard of what seem to be bits of quickly evaporating soapsuds.

There’s nothing noticeably enchanted about these scenes, except for those with moving teddy bears. In garb and posture the children seem happy and neat. To me, the best scene was a book-lined parlor with a roaring fire and a mother reading “A Visit From St. Nicholas’’ to three children - one of whom is gobbling cookies from a plate.

Mary Ella is sometimes quite chatty, but she stared and said nothing throughout this adventure, which suggested to me that her little mind was set on “record.’’ I thought for a moment that she might reach out and take an apple from the apple girl.

Perhaps to downplay religious overtones, the words “of St. Nicholas’’ have been eliminated from the title of this display. Even so, the figure of St. Nick is still there, near the end, and a menorah is seen in the poem-reading scene. However you understand the festal season, wandering through this genial and appealing little wonderland, you know it’s not the Fourth of July.

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