It takes a village to sum up the holiday cheer in this North Fork home

12/24/2011 10:00 PM |

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | The holiday village at the Murphy househould in Southold.

Jim and Peggy Murphy have holiday spirit to spare — and the candy-caned columns of their home on Horton’s Lane in Southold are just the beginning.

Each year the Murphys invite their neighbors to get a gander of the extensive Department 56 holiday snow village they’ve built into a living room bay window.

“It gives me great pleasure to look at” Ms. Murphy said. “People were asking to see it, so [opening the display to the public] seemed the sensible thing to do.”

The snow village, set on a massive 13-by-five-foot stand, boasts over 50 buildings, 100 accessory pieces and nearly 30 Santas.

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“The youngsters like to try to count them,” Ms. Murphy said of local school children who have visited the display this year. Two classes have visited so far with another two still to come.

Son and daughter-in-law Rob and Lynn Dow took over setting the village up several years ago. “Jim and I used to set it up,” Ms. Murphy said, “but it took a month.” But the younger generation can do it in just two days. Last year, however, the Dows’ work obligations kept the village packed away.

Two cats — the live, fur-bearing kind — lounge around the three-tiered Department 56 display. Misty, the gray cat, will often sleep on an ice pond inside the village.

“I’ve only ever seen the Good Humor ice cream man get knocked over when she sleeps up there,” Ms. Murphy said.

It all started in 1982, when a window display at a New York City Fortunoff’s caught her eye. Her collection began with the Church of the Open Door, a piece that’s since been retired.

“We started with one level,” Ms. Murphy said, “We used to have Home Sweet Home separate from the others.” The Home Sweet Home/House & Windmill piece, Ms. Murphy’s favorite, is a replica of the historic East Hampton homestead of composer John Howard Payne, built in the 1700s.

Asked if she owns the entire Department 56 snow village collection, Ms. Murphy responded, “Heavens, no.” She said she prefers buildings with an “older look.”

Anyone thinking of contributing a new building to the display needn’t bother. Ms. Murphy says she doesn’t have the room. Only the annual commemorative pieces she receives are welcome.

gvolpe@timesreview.com