Take a short trip east of Champaign-Urbana to visit an amazing Christmas Village at the Ogden Rose Public Library
Roberta Morris is once again exhibiting her miniature Christmas Village, with optional donations to benefit the community organization Onward Ogden
The expression “Go big or go home!” comes to mind quite often during the holiday season, when visions of excess dance in our heads — and on our lawns, and under our trees.
At the Ogden Rose Public Library this December, an amazingly detailed and precisely arranged miniature Christmas village is SO big, it fills up an entire meeting room and spills out onto the library shelves and windowsills to create a wonderland for visitors of all ages.
Roberta “Bert” Morris’ Christmas village layouts are legendary in Central Illinois. Over the years she has exhibited her impressive collection as a labor of love in various cities, including Champaign in 2019. The public is invited to donate but admission is free for all.
After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Bert moved her “Small Town Christmas” village exhibit to the small town of Ogden (population 721) in 2022. Now her newly assembled and fully lit village will open for the 2023 holiday season on Dec. 2, to coincide with the second annual lighting of the Ogden Christmas tree at 6 p.m.
Visitors to the Ogden Rose Public Library can enjoy the overflow shelves of the village whenever the library is open, but you’ll want to plan your visit for times when the meeting room is scheduled to be open. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet Bert herself, all the way from Decatur.
In addition to ooh-ing and ah-ing over vignette after vignette — “Look! A parade!” “Here’s a dog park!” “The flamingos at the motel are wearing wreaths!” “Over here, a fireman rescuing a cat from a tree!” — kids can complete a scavenger hunt, and parents can blow some extra cash at a bake sale.
The main village layout in the meeting room is at kid-level, which makes it possible for short visitors to marvel at tiny details such as working lights, signs, and moving parts. Parents will need to supervise their smaller children and help them keep their hands to themselves.
In a stroke of brilliance — clearly this is not Bert’s first rodeo — the library has dedicated tables in the main area for a build-your-own village area, where touching is not only permitted but encouraged.
All the proceeds from the 2023 Christmas village exhibit will again go to Onward Ogden, an organization of local volunteers working to make Ogden a better community. Some of Onward Ogden’s other projects: putting on a Holiday Market at the Ogden Masonic Lodge on Dec. 10, organizing periodic volunteer work days for Ogden’s green spaces, and supporting a weekly farmers market for the community.
If you go
This library is a very welcoming place for children. In addition to the play tables for the Christmas village exhibit, it has a coloring and crafts table set up, as well as a Polar Express zone and a Christmas photo backdrop.
Location and hours
The Ogden Rose Public Library is located at 103 W. Main Street in the Village of Ogden, an easy 20-minute drive east of Champaign on I-74.
“A Small Town Christmas” opens to the public on Dec. 2. Viewing times from Dec. 3-31 are noon-7 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, and noon-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Some extra hours are planned just before Christmas, and the exhibit will be closed Dec. 25-29. Contact the library before you head out to confirm any changes to the schedule.
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