I still remember going over to my grandpas house for Christmas and staring for hours at the Christmas village he always had set up on a card table in the living room with 15 or 20 mini porcelain buildings. It let my imagination run wild thinking about life in the little town. Well, if my grandpa's village was a "town", the village at Loveland's Ace Hardware is a "big city".

Enter Carlsville, a 300 building village set up right next door to the Ace Hardware in Loveland.

Carlsville represents a mountain town at the turn of the 20th century with a variety of commercial and residential areas connected by stone, candy and fabric roads, sidewalks and paths.

The display features a downtown district, a ski slope and resort area, a golf course, fishing villages, animal and Christmas tree farms, parks and residential neighborhoods, along with Santa's hometown, the North Pole.

A Lionel train runs through the village with a couple of train stops.

There are restaurants, movie theaters, retail stores, hotels, coffee shops, grocery stores, churches, and school and government buildings -- all of them a wonder for a child or an adult leaning down to see the smaller, Alice-sized world.

The owner of the village, Jerry Welter, has been buying 8 to 12 new buildings at Ace since they started selling them in 1980. Soon the collection outgrew his home, so his brother, Carl, who was killed in a scooter accident in late 2009, encouraged Welter to set up his entire collection for a fundraiser for those in need. In his memory, Welter exhibited the village he named.

Now Welter is showing off his collection to the public starting Friday through the end of the year to raise funds for the House of Neighborly Service.

Welter is asking for cash and nonperishable food donations to view the village. His fundraiser last year raised nearly $3,000 and a dozen 55-gallon drums of food.

[Reporter Herald]