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MCL 708 Christmas Village & Toys for Tots

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Imagine strolling through the trails of an enchanted winter wonderland, a place of magic and marvel where one can tour the North Pole, Santa’s Workshop, Candy Land, a Norman Rockwell village, and even an Island of the Misfit Toys. All the while meeting true legends of the holiday season like Santa Claus and the Grinch and beholding thousands of bright seasonal lights and vividly decorated Christmas trees.

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The Marine Corps League 708 will present Santa’s Christmas Village at 8405 Sunshine Grove Road, Brooksville, from 5-8 pm on Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23. And while this festive seasonal event is fun and fanciful, its proceeds will simultaneously benefit a serious and valued cause: the support of our area’s veterans.

Marine Corps League 708 Commandant Jim Bravico shared, “We always like to do something for the kids, and so with the coming of the Christmas season, our Halloween Trail of Horror becomes Santa’s Christmas Village.”

This quarter-of-a-mile trail, located just behind the Marine Corps League 708, will indeed be a Yuletide fantasy land for young people. The community can take photos with Santa, pick up prizes from the Island of Misfit Toys, and meet real elves. The trail features oversized candy canes, fragrant holiday wreaths, and Santa’s reindeer, one of which has a nose painted curiously red.

“We’ve had as many as 10,000 people walking the trail for one of our holiday events,” said Bravico. “And this year, they’ll see 40,000 lights.”
Admission to Santa’s Christmas Village will be $5 per person, while children five and under will be free.

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Bravico explained how proceeds would benefit veterans. “We provide any number of services for veterans,” said Bravico. “We help them stop their evictions. We help them find housing and provide clothing, food, blankets, and other necessities. We help them with bills, help them with paperwork, and more.”

When guests visit Santa’s Christmas Village, they can contribute to another important cause: Toys for Tots, a Marine Corps Reserve program providing toys for needy children. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Hernando County division of Toys for Tots served 2,000 families last year.

“We need everything and are particularly short on toys for older kids,” said Jose Infante, Toys for Tots coordinator, assisted in Hernando by Pedro Verge. “A lot of people are contacting us this year, saying that this is the first time they’ve had to reach out to Toys for Tots for help.”
Once toys are collected, they’ll be made available to registered parents at two distribution events on Dec. 17 and 18. “We’ll be seeing 80 families per hour,” said Infante. “They can select toys for their children from our holiday shop.”

Santa’s Christmas Village guests can bring new, unwrapped toy donations to the TFT collection boxes posted at Marine Corps League 708, spreading some magical Santa spirit to needy children.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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