Wood Worker Suggests Christmas Walk Idea for Heritage House

Jim Behrends and Bob Boots are pictured with one of the decorations that can be found at Heritage House on Friday and Saturday. Behrends originally came up with the idea, and both Behrends and Boots are expected to have wood working displays at the event this year. (photo contributed)

ATLANTIC – If you’ve been in the Ann W. Wickman Child Development Center, you’ve likely seen Jim Behrends’ work-it’s a wood carving of train.

Behrends said he was always carving wood when he was growing up, and has a number of pieces in his collection.

It is likely some of those pieces will be on display during an event that starts on Friday and continues through Saturday at Heritage House. In fact, it was Behrends who came up with the idea for the event.

He is Director of Environmental Services at Heritage House, and he said several years ago, he came up with the idea to hold a “Christmas Walk” there.

“The original thought for the walk was for people who can’t get out (but) can still see the lights,” he said.

So, the idea was born, to put out displays and Christmas Trees, and allow residents at the facility to walk through and enjoy all the display and Christmas lights.

It grew from there, starting with two people having displays-Bob Boots and Steve Livengood-to over a dozen displays and over 20 decorated Christmas trees.

At first, the idea was just to have the residents view the displays, but later, different classes of students started coming to the facility to view the displays. And then other things were added, like a coloring contest and a scavenger hunt. Now Santa comes to visit, face painting is offered and popcorn, sno cones, hot cider and hot cocoa is served. All the refreshments and activities are free.

This year’s event will be held on Dec. 7 from 2 to 7 p.m., and on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Santa will visit from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 7, and from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Behrends said this year’s displays include model trains, a number of wood carving displays, a display of leather items, a flower display, a dot art display, a Mickey Mouse Collection, a collection of Dream Catchers and display by the Atlantic Flying Hawks RC. There will also be over 20 Christmas Trees on display, which vary from a Iowa State Tree to an Iowa Tree to a Snowman Tree and a Veterans’ Tree to many more. The Hy-Vee Cookie Monster is also said to be making an appearance this year during the event.

Behrends said the best part of the event is seeing the reaction of people when coming to the event.

“The biggest reward you can have is (a resident coming to the display),” Behrends said. “They light up, they start talking to you.”