Tom Mallory, State Farm Insurance agent in Whitehall, shows the massive miniature Christmas Village layout which is displayed in his office from mid-November to the end of January. Pieces have been added each year, totalling around 100 buildings, landscap
Tom Mallory’s jaw-dropping miniature Christmas Village display started when he was a State Farm Insurance agent in Wabash, Indiana in the late 70s, and viewing it has grown to a holiday favorite for many of his customers, friends and area residents.
“It started by just getting my old train set out and putting it around the Christmas tree in my Indiana office,” Mallory said. “My wife’s sister bought me the first piece, a schoolhouse.”
After that, family members kept buying pieces for the village each year, until Tom begged them to stop because he has no more space in his office. “I took it off my (Christmas) list.”
“My mom still buys me a new Christmas themed train car each year.” The cars, dated by year, get added to the train which travels along the tracks.
Mallory moved to Whitehall in 1989 to take over his retired father’s State Farm Agency, and the Christmas Village has become a holiday feature at his building located at 623 E. Colby Street.
The local insurance agent says he loves to have people come in to view the display which covers much of his office floor space, and sits on several 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood.
The Christmas Village includes two O-Gauge Lionel trains, around 100 buildings, and vehicles, billboards, power poles, trees, hills and many other features of a village and surrounding countryside.
The viewer can see several animated features, and new ones keep popping into view.
There is a flowing stream down a mountain, Santa and his reindeer flying over a rooftop, a man snowblowing his drive, cars driving on an ice pond, kids sliding down a hill and more.
Mallory said many of the pieces were purchased at Pitkin Drug and Gift Shoppe in Whitehall. “They have sent me catalogs,” he added.
And, several of the buildings have special meaning. A courthouse is including in memory of his wife, Chris’ father and brother, Fredric Grimm Sr., and Fredric Grimm who both served as judges in Muskegon County.
A John Deere implement store was added because friend John VanLoon is a fan of John Deere. VanLoon, the current superintendent of Ravenna Public Schools, previously was the Whitehall High School principal and still lives in Whitehall with his family. His wife, Amy, is the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce executive director.
A hospital was added in honor of friends, Dr. Ron and Joyce Lehman. Dr. Lehman is a retired Whitehall dentist.
Mallory, a collector of O-Gauge model trains, said the display once had as many as four trains, but he now has limited it to two.
The insurance agent gets plenty of help in setting up the Christmas Village each year.
His nephew, Bryan Mahan, a teacher and coach at Whitehall High School, gets some of his soccer players to set up the plywood base on sawhorses.
His great-nephew, Collin Mahan, an eighth grader, helped him get out the pieces, each stored in their own box.
Then, from memory, Mallory sets up the display.
The final touches from his wife, Chris, an art teacher at Whitehall High School, who, he said, makes adjustments for the different views and adds the artificial snow.
Mallory said it takes a couple of weeks to set up, and he tries to get it ready for the Holiday Walk in mid-November. He plans to leave it up through the end of January.
By the way, a couple of more interesting pieces is a home with a lighted Christmas display on its exterior, and a neighboring home having a yard sale.