or sale: 31 boys, 25 girls, 15 bears, two clerks, one Dalmation, three cats, two puppies, four musicians and one Santa.
After dazzling generations of kids whose parents took them on Christmas pilgrimages to the “Historic Enchanted Village,” the entire mechanical cast of Boston’s beloved attraction and all its Victorian-era props will be sold at a live auction June 18 to a single bidder.
Mayor Thomas Menino said yesterday that the city is looking to find a good home for all the little village people and props - from shelves of authentic books, some from the 1890s, to jars of popping corn - and hopes that a Christmas-themed amusement park will buy the entire village and restore it to its former glory.
“I remember going as a boy with my parents,” Menino recalled. “But everything has its time and usefulness.”
The village was the brainchild of Jordan Marsh executive David Callahan, who in the 1930s commissioned Bavarian toymakers to craft what was once more than 300 electromechanical animated figures. Come Christmastime beginning in the 1940s, Jordan Marsh would set up the little New England town at its Downtown Crossing department store.
After Macy’s took over the chain, it gave the village to the city, which displayed the attraction under a tent at City Hall Plaza from 1998 to 2002 and then at the Hynes Convention Center for the next three years. But in 2006, the city pulled the plug on the storied tradition as attendance dropped from 166,752 visitors in 1998 to 43,804 in 2005 and revenue shriveled from $107,202 to $32,639 during that period.
Meanwhile, the costs to operate the village soared as it became harder to replace broken parts.
The city’s bidding adieu to the village made some longtime Bostonians a bit wistful yesterday. “It was really magical going in there as a young kid. We didn’t have money for Disneyland. So that was our Disneyland,” recalled state Rep. Brian Wallace.
The city will hold the live auction - it will also be shown live on the Web - at 11 a.m. June 18 at a warehouse at 3 Dolphin Way in South Boston. Anyone interested in viewing the pieces of the Enchanted Village before they are sold can visit the site from June 15-17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or take a virtual tour at www.paineauctioneers.com.
I think this would be awesome to have as a display at Christmas! I'd like to see what the bids get up to.