When John Murphy and Joan Pappalardo decided to create a winterscape, using lighted model buildings from a company called Department 56, as well as tiny figures, tiny trees, cotton snow, animated skaters and skiers, and a working train, well, it wasn’t enough to just clear off the coffee table.
Instead, Murphy, 73, a retired businessman from Melrose, started work on the project last October, determined to produce something bigger and more exciting than he’d managed last Christmas.
He constructed a table 16 feet by 7 feet-plus, with one end tapering off to 4 feet. It’s built of plastic foam and chairs.
And, by the way, that 4-foot length is necessary because, in the first place, it’s located in Joan’s apartment. “My furniture is now up in his apartment,” said Pappalardo, 79, a retired Massachusetts General Hospital nurse originally from Medford.
In the second place, a lot of the people who come to admire the North Pole Village are in wheelchairs, and they need room to turn around.
The apartment is at Brooksby Village in Peabody, and the North Pole Village has become something of sensation there as a large parade of residents, employees, and various children and grandchildren have made the pilgrimage to see it. As many as 700 saw it last year, and Murphy expects even more stopping by, at prearranged hours, this year.
It’s an impressive piece of work. Of course, most of the elements are purchased, but the magic is in the way Pappalardo and Murphy have artfully set them up. A black cloth on the wall mirrors the night sky. Cotton snow dominates an area sculpted to include hills and mountains. Finally, a red material fashioned as a skirt by resident Alice Gross hides all the wires and supports.
The train nearly disappears beneath a second level of the table, and when it re-emerges, it twists and turns past the elaborately styled ceramic buildings.