For those of you who read my recent post about our trip to Frankenmuth, Mich., you knew this was coming. For those of you who didn't catch that blog, you can find it here
The trip was a last-minute decision thanks to hot, humid, uncomfortable weather that caused my wife and I to rethink our planned camping trip.Somewhat recent conversations with Mom had given my wife and I cause to consider a trip to Frankenmuth wherein lies Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.
I guess I'm kind of addicted to Christmas. I enjoy few things more than creating my holiday display each November. Come on, there are worse things to which I could be addicted . My addiction won't hurt anyone - except when the electric bill arrives in December and January.
We set off on Monday morning and arrived in town around 4 p.m.
The first day, we were unable to visit Bronner's because a thunderstorm had knocked out power to the area. Later that evening, after power was restored, we took a drive through Bronner's grounds - alive with displays and lights that might just make the folks at the North Pole a little jealous. (No, not the real North Pole. I'm talking about the one where Santa lives. Duh!) Bronner's keeps the lights on well into the evening.
On Day Two, after another trip into town, it was time to head to what was sure to be the highlight of the trip, and Bronner's did not disappoint!
We entered at the West Entrance (yep, there are two entrances), and it took me 10 minutes to get past the first display.
After a few steps inside, it was clear I needed some direction or we'd be there for days (not that I would have minded that), so I found the customer service desk just inside the entrance and grabbed a map - that's right, a map - of the store. You'll need one, especially if you are like me and make a quick trip or two around to take it all in and then return to the areas you want to check out again ... and again, and again, and again.
I was like a kid in a candy store.
Everywhere we looked were ornaments, lights, nativity displays, indoor decorations, outdoor decorations, Christmas trees, garland ... I could go on and on, but to get a true feel for this place is to go there. I highly recommend going there.
Should you find yourself immersed in this wonderland, do yourself a favor and remember to look up. Anything in the store that has a tag on it is for sale. My wife and I had a little bit of a problem because on our first couple of rounds through the store, we were looking around, not up. We were missing a lot.
Being one who is constantly looking to add to and upgrade my outdoor holiday display, the lighting department was high on my list of must-sees (much to my wife's dismay, I'm sure). While I didn't make any lighting purchases - budget constraints cramped my style a bit - I certainly got some good ideas.
Holiday lighting has obviously changed over the years and Bronner's has some of the newest and coolest stuff around. They have it all - traditional lights, novelty sets, LEDs of all shapes and sizes. They also stock a relative newcomer to the world of holiday lighting - the "falling" or "dripping" icicle lights. If you haven't seen them, these lights seem to fall like shining snowflakes or shooting stars. They are awesome and soon will be a part of my outdoor display ... I hope. They're not cheap, but I'll work hard to save up. I hate waiting.
Believe me, next time I'll be packing a little more cash. There are some things that I simply must have. Sorry, dear.
We spent an hour or more browsing the Dept. 56 displays. If you are a collector of Dept. 56 villages and have difficulty finding a piece, check with Bronner's. They probably have it. I picked up something small, just so I can say that, "I got that at Bronner's." It is a companion piece to a retired building my wife recently purchased for me as an early birthday gift.
Then there are, of course, ornaments ... good grief, the ornaments ... my guess would be millions. I could spend a week at this place and not see everything there. Nearly any ornament sold there can be personalized at no cost. A special souvenir for some friends back home? Yep!
Four and a half hours disappeared during our visit on Tuesday. Tuesday night, having little luck finding something to take home to our daughter, we decided we'd go back on Wednesday before heading home. A set of peace sign lights was on our list.
Our return on Wednesday was preceded Tuesday night by yet another trip through the festive grounds. What else were we going to do? It wasn't time for bed and the place was right around the corner. We walked around the Silent Night Chapel
, noticed lights we hadn't noticed the night before, and found some additional items we wanted to search for during our Wednesday visit.
Now, I'm not sure if there's some kind of time warp there, but it took us two and a half hours to pick up one set of lights on Wednesday. It felt like maybe 20 minutes, but trust me, it wasn't.
For me, this was an escape. Christmas music playing at just the right level, bright lights shining all around, beautiful displays and every employee happy to help. How could a person not be happy in a place like this?
I forgot about all my worries for about seven hours over those couple days, and I can't wait to forget again.
Bronner's motto is "Enjoy CHRISTmas, It's HIS birthday, Enjoy Life, It's His way." That's certainly something worth some thought and this is certainly someplace worth a visit ... again and again and again.
-- Sean Linhart
Labels: Bronner's, Frankenmuth, Michigan