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Dekker: Arts center to host annual Doll House and Miniature Show

OrlPark resident DLarsis pictured with dollhouse he’s donating be raffled Vogt Visual Arts Center. | Supplied Photo

Orland Park resident Don Larson is pictured with the dollhouse he’s donating to be raffled at the Vogt Visual Arts Center. | Supplied Photo

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Updated: December 26, 2012 6:12AM



They say good things come in small packages. That certainly is the case at the Vogt Visual Arts Center this holiday season as it hosts its annual Doll House and Miniature Show.

This yearly favorite is back with dozens of miniature creations sure to delight everyone in the family. You’ll find gardens, pet shops, bowling alleys, Victorian houses and more that will have you saying, “How did they do that?”

Furnished to the most minute detail, these rooms will capture you.

As special as these houses are, one is extra special. Each year for this exhibit, Orland Park resident Don Larson builds a beautiful dollhouse to be raffled. He approached the Art Center several years ago after visiting the holiday display and offered to donate a new house that could be raffled to benefit a local charity.

This is nothing new to Larson, who began building dollhouses after he retired. His grandchildren were among the first to benefit from his hobby, but when he built one for his wife, Rita, to put in her classroom, Larson saw how much the children loved playing with it — boys and girls.

Today, every kindergarten classroom in Orland Park has one of Larson’s handmade dollhouses. So do many early childhood classrooms in Oak Forest.

Don and Rita Larson have donated about a dozen houses a year to charities near and far since his retirement.

“Most of our houses go to silent auctions to raise money for a charity that benefits children,” Don said.

Houses have been given to Sunny Ridge Adoption Agency, Treasuring Our Kids Cancer Center, the Toy Box Connection, Elim Christian Services and the Ronald McDonald House at Loyola Hospital.

As you can imagine, building that many houses keeps Don pretty busy.

“It’s worth it to see the pleasure on the children’s faces when they receive one,” he said.

The Doll House and Miniature Show will run from Dec. 1 to Jan. 23. It kicks off with a holiday open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1.

Tickets are only $1, and all proceeds go to the Tinley Wish Program, which helps the neediest families in Tinley Park.

The Vogt Visual Arts Center is at 17420 S. 67th Court in the historic Henry Vogt home. Admission is free. For more information, call (708) 309-4371.

A history lesson

If you’re in a nostalgic mood, visit the Tinley Park Historical Society and take a step back in time. Built in 1884, the old Zion Lutheran Church will show classic holiday movies, complete with popcorn, on Dec. 1 and 2.

Next door to the church, in the schoolhouse museum, you can see a display of toys, traditions and items from Christmases past.

The church and museum are open from noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 1 and noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 2. The Historical Society is at 6727 W. 174th St., south of the Metra station.

‘Tis the season

The village’s Holiday Market weekend kicks off with the tree-lighting ceremony on Nov. 30 in Zabrocki Plaza. Arrive about 5:30 to enjoy the music. The tree and plaza will light up about 6.

On Dec. 1, the Holiday Market will be open from noon to 6 p.m. at the Oak Park Avenue Metra station. Enjoy craft vendors, food, music and activities inside the big tent.

The Tinley Toyland Parade starts at 11:30 a.m. and marks the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. You can watch ice carvings being created in Zabrocki Plaza at 2 p.m. and enjoy old-fashioned carriage rides all day.

A campfire is planned in the field south of the train station, where you can warm up and have some S’mores. Complimentary photos with Santa will be available inside the station, and you are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item for a local food pantry.

The festivities continue from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 2, ending with the Parade of Lights at 5. Viewing is from 177th Street north on Oak Park Avenue.

All these activities are free, courtesy of Tinley Park. What a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Hope to see you there!



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