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Macon County couple sets up 40-foot 'old-fashioned' Christmas village for community

"He's my sweetheart," Helen Harp says of her husband of 56 years.

MONTEZUMA, Ga. — Inside every home is a family -- people with shared stories. Don and Helen Harp have been married 56 years, and boy have they had a life together.

This is a story about their homes... albeit probably not the kind you're thinking about.

Don is a retired industrial engineer by trade, an author and songwriter, and he's interviewed the likes of Tim McGraw, Martina McBride and other big name country music artists.

Helen says she loves music, and that led her to work with "one of the best people in Nashville" -- CC McCartney at WSIX in Tennessee. She helped him run a syndicated radio show called Climbing Country for five years.

The couple first met at a young age. Helen says she told her older sister, "I'm gonna marry that sucker one of these days." 

Years later, they ran into each other at the skating rink and they've been together ever since.

"We're one of those couples that, as a general rule, you see one of us, you see both of us," Don said.

"He's my sweetheart," Helen said.

They moved to Montezuma about two years ago after buying a house, and a year later Don experienced something he'll never forget.

"February of last year I had a massive heart attack and they actually called the family in. They said 'Hey, he's not going to make it,' and I did," Don said.

This year, the couple is excited to bring back their tradition of setting up their Christmas village. But this time, they'll be setting it up for the public to see.

"This is a way for a month during Christmas every year to actually get away from the computer and do something that everybody enjoys, and this time the community can enjoy it as well... so it's a lot of fun," Don said.

They started collecting houses in 1999. Today, they have over 200 houses and another 200 smaller pieces. Most of the houses light up, and some even play music and move.

People have sent them pieces from places all over, like California, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, and even from the Caribbean.

In the past, it's grown to be 20-feet long when they set it up in their house. This year, the display is over 40-feet long, thanks to the generosity of others.

"Hopefully it'll be a good little thing for the community," Don said.

"A lot of kids don't get out of town, they are just here, and so this will give them something to do here," Helen said.

You can see their Christmas village at the old Citizens Bank building in Montezuma, located at 97 E Railroad St.

Here's the schedule:

  • Dec. 17 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 18 from 2:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 20-23 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 27-30 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

On Dec. 23, they will have hot chocolate, sing Christmas carols, and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will visit with children.

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