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Embracing the trappings of the season, writ large

Marilyn Hartung is opening up her extensively decorated Bamberg Christmas Cottage to select groups until Dec. 20. [Veronica Reiner /The Observer]

A local decorator has transformed her Wellesley property into a winter wonderland, carrying on a decade-long tradition for a good cause.

The final product is truly a festive sight, featuring just about every Christmas-themed item you can think of inside and outside of her Weimar Line home. There are appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus, themed rooms, carollers, and an assortment of treats, all available for just a few weeks around the holidays.

It takes Marilyn Hartung about a month to set up her Christmas cottage, employing more than a thousand decorations, but she says the time and effort is well worth it.

“It makes my heart happy to do this,” said Hartung.

The inspiration comes from her mother, who always decorated their home to the nines. Hartung is carrying on the childhood tradition and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come.

While the display is not entirely open to the public, select groups – including friends (and friends of friends) and family of the Hartungs, local line dancers, and those part of her singing group are welcome to come check out the space.

While she never looks to be compensated for her work, Hartung is accepting donations to the Toy Mountain Toy Drive, as she did during her 2018 Christmas cottage tour. All donated items go directly benefit less fortunate children in Waterloo Region.

Previous charities benefitted include the local food bank and the Knights of Columbus.

“Each year I try to do something different, and toys are on the list for this year,” said Hartung. “I like giving and I want to give to the children that are less fortunate than we are. It warms my heart.”

“Last year, there were over 100 packed in the box we had extra boxes to take. It really makes you feel that people are so generous. Some would bring two gifts, not just one – one for a boy and a girl. They were so generous last year.”

There are about 20 collected items right now, including teddy bears, stuffed animals, and dolls. Hartung expects to add to that collection as she hosts more and more local groups – her tours will continue until December 20.

Those participating in the tour can expect to see a fully decorated Elvis-themed room, animated toys, family-themed photographs, a Victorian-themed dining room, several Christmas trees, a cozy hot chocolate room, and a display of Christmas carollers and Santa Claus on a projector. Weather permitting, a winter fire may be burning outside.

Hartung said she likes to switch up the decorations each year, and there is no particular pattern that she goes by when she begins the decorating process – she plays it by ear.

“I always purge a lot of my decorations and give it to the MCC or Value Village. Because I get tired of the same thing, and then I get new things, or people give me things,” she explained.

She added that no matter what the year, people can always expect a fantastic display. Every single detail is thought out in this expertly decorated property.

“When you enter the cottage you will smell cinnamon, cookies, and maybe a chicken roasting or turkey, for that little extra Christmas feel.”

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