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Willowdale Winter Wonderland coming in December

When Lacey Smith moved into the Willowdale Subdivision with her husband and three kids in 2015, she heard tales from the past when residents would lavishly decorate their homes for the holidays.

"I love Christmas and we have a fantastic neighborhood!" said Smith, who has lived in St. Joseph since 2012. "The idea just popped in my head that one day I would like to organize this for the community."

She had a lot of wonderful memories of visiting Candlestick Lane in Urbana, the source of her inspiration, as a child. She decided she wanted to try and build a similar tradition.

Last fall while hosting a bonfire for neighbors, Smith casually brought the idea up.

"Everyone was interested and plans began to form for the Willowdale Winter Wonderland!" Smith said.

After the initial positive response that evening, she made flyers to spread the word with the subdivision community. With the help of Tonya Yeazel and the subdivision's Facebook group page, it didn't take much effort for residents to join forces on transforming the neighborhood into a Christmas-inspired holiday oasis on the prairie.

Starting Friday, December 4, Willowdale will become a Winter Wonderland. Visitors will be able drive through the unique three-block neighborhood surrounded by corn and bean fields to enjoy dozens of decorated homes. It hasn't been confirmed, but Smith said that they are hoping that Santa will make an early visit to the Wonderland on December 12 to say hello to all the good little boys and girls.

"Stay tuned for confirmation once we hear back from the North Pole," she said. "Spread the word. I hope you and your family can come on out for a drive through Willowdale Winter Wonderland!"

Smith said she and her neighbors are a pretty tight-knit group.

"Covid has really brought many of us closer, too," she said, explaining the support and their shared sense of community. "None of us knew when we said we wanted to launch this in 2020, that we would be in the middle of a global pandemic. Now we feel like this is a great opportunity for us to spread some cheer and give kids something to look forward to this year."

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