Before the lights turn on at the Christmas Village in Irvine Park, Mary Brunstad is decorating and tweaking the four Christmas trees on display.
“We were in the Navy for 22 years and we did a lot of moves. And every time we moved our family wasn’t with us, so we got involved in the community and they became our family,” said Brunstad.
For 25 years, Brunstad has volunteered to decorate the trees at the Christmas village.
She starts decorating in September, and usually comes every single day for about eight hours until each tree is perfect.
“It’s the only place where you can get all the decorations you want, the lights are already on the tree and all you have to do is put on the ornaments. And the best part about volunteering here, I don’t have to take anything down. That’s why I appreciate the volunteers and the crew here,” said Brunstad.
This year, the trees will honor military service as well as one celebrating local girl scouts.
For Brunstad, there’s no place she’d rather be than at Irvine Park when the leaves start to fall.
“I have a good family, my sister-in-law, but my husband is very understanding. But yeah, it’s just giving back,” she said.
While Brunstad spends hundreds of hours getting the trees ready, it’s those singular moments after the lights go on that makes the hard work pay off.
“If we can just make one little child, or a family, or just any person. And it’s just, we get so many thank you’s, you know. It’s worth it,” she explained.
The Christmas Village at Irvine Park will turn the lights on Nov. 28 and stay on until Jan. 1.