Keith May
Keith May
A Christmas Village collection, featuring over 200 ceramic houses, 1,000 people and trees, a post office, mechanical carousel, Nativity and a battery-operated train is on display in a vacant storefront across from the courthouse.

Shoppers and other passersby can view the Christmas Village from the sidewalk now through New Year’s.  It is the prettiest at night when all the lights are on, admirers say.

Owner Keith May, formerly of Arkansas, said it took about 50 hours to set up his massive collection because the narrow windows on the building made it hard for him to maneuverer.

Each piece of the unique collection has its own place in the display. He starts by setting up the buildings, then comes the lights, the people and other pieces.

There is a post office, a grocery store, a hospital complete with an ambulance, movable crazy cars, a petting zoo, ponds, lakes, twirling teacups and even a Ferris Wheel.

May, who is employed by Weyerhaeuser, began collecting village pieces with his wife Karen Eshee May, a Neshoba County native, around 1994.

“We just picked up a piece in a store and started collecting them,” he said.

The collection quickly outgrew their house so they started displaying it for the public while they were living in Port Gibson.

Now they have a building behind their house to store it in the other 10 months of the year.

After it is disassembled, each house is returned to its original box for storage, May said.

The lights on the Christmas Village are turned off around midnight each night while the train runs until about 9 p.m.  to avoid extended wear and tear.

“This is our fourth train,” May said. “They can only run for so long.”

This is the second time May has displayed his collection here during the Christmas season. He first did it in 2014 and gained rave reviews.

Main Street Director Tim Moore and Board member Janice Payne were among those present for the unveiling this year.

The best thing Payne likes about the Christmas Village is that you can view it multiple times and still find a new scene or a piece that didn’t catch you eye initially because it is so massive.

“It is such an awesome display and our community is so blessed and so fortunate to have Keith spend all of his time and effort to share his collection with us,” Payne said. “He has been collecting this for many years. I just think it is wonderful that he wants to share it with our community.

The Nativity is Payne’s favorite piece, she said.