We've Got Answers-Christmas Village
If anyone needs proof that Santa exists, we have his address. He lives on Church Street in Torrington in a Tudor-style brick building that has all the requisite trappings of the North Pole, including reindeer.
Torrington’s Christmas Village—the first of its kind in the country—remains virtually unchanged since 1947 when Carl Bozenski, a Parks & Recreation program director, proposed transforming a playground into Santa’s home. “I don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere,” says Mark McEachern, executive director of Torrington Historical Society. Bozenski became frustrated with the commercialization of Christmas after taking his son to a department store where they met a disheveled Santa surrounded by frenzied shoppers. The experience prompted him to create a permanent place for children to visit that was free and non-commercial. Established largely with private donations and town funding, Christmas Village includes Mr. and Mrs. Claus parlors, a wooden shelter for reindeer, a creche, and an elves workshop. From the beginning, it was a success, prompting newspapers in the ’50s to dub Torrington “Christmas Town.”
It continues to be the longest-running attraction of its kind in the country, drawing an average of 20,000 visitors from December 6 through Christmas Eve.
The town has been rigorous about keeping it from becoming commercialized, says McEachern. There’s no admission fee, it’s not advertised, and the toys given away to children are purchased with donated money. It’s staffed by volunteers and Parks & Recreation.
Ultimately, the draw for those families that return year after year is not the twinkling Christmas lights, the promise of a present, or even seeing Santa. It is about something less tangible: the earthly smell of real Christmas trees, crackling wood fires, and real reindeer.