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Half a million lights to recreate the magic of Christmas in your home

Bad Tatzmannsdorf (Austria), Dec 8 (EFE) .- Once upon a time there was an Austrian girl with a dream: to build a Christmas amusement park in the backyard of her house. More than 30 years and half a million lights later, Sabine Gollnhuber is the owner of the “House of Christmas”, a “kitsch” paradise that reopens this year despite the pandemic. Every winter thousands of visitors flock to admire the illuminated garden of Sabine’s house in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, a small town about a hundred kilometers south of Vienna. Inside is the largest private collection of inflatable dolls in Europe: 180 figures scattered throughout the premises, most of them Christmas-themed, although there are also superheroes and movie characters. Everything seems wrapped in a multicolored halo, a festive reflection that comes from the nearly 600,000 little lights that hang from the trees and from the roof of the house, carefully arranged by Sabine and her family during the months prior to the opening of the venue, the first December week. This year, the pandemic requires strict security measures to be followed, such as the constant use of the mask, the registration of the personal data of the attendees or the control of the capacity. But despite the restrictions, Sabine’s dream lives on. And the idea is to make it bigger and bigger. A GIRL’S DREAM Sabine has a permanent smile on her face and is always laughing. Two earrings in the shape of Christmas decorations hang from her ears. “When I went with my parents and my sister to Disneyland, in Florida and in California, that was a special place that remained in my heart,” the woman explained to Efe during the inauguration this year of the “House of Christmas “. That is why he always wanted to set up, in his own home, a kind of Christmas theme park in the image and likeness of those Disney parks that had brought him so much happiness. At first it started with a few lights and figures just for the family. But as her collection of inflatables grew, Sabine began to open the venue to the public for free, although she also collects donations that she gives to organizations such as the Red Cross. Today, Sabine’s family welcomes guests dressed up as popular children’s characters: SpongeBob, the Grinch and the Minion Stuart stroll through the lighted garden as children point at them in surprise. “When a child comes to you who thinks that Santa Claus or the baby Jesus is sleeping inside your house, it means that you have done a good job,” says Sabine. SECURITY MEASURES This month marks 10 years since the Christmas paradise of Bad Tatzmannsdorf began welcoming visitors and has since become a landmark throughout Austria. Although the organizer hopes that this time there will be much less due to the restrictions and fear generated by the coronavirus, the truth is that this reduction is very appropriate if the sanitary recommendations for the holidays are taken into account. “This year our families have to be smaller,” sums up Sabine. To adapt to health safety requirements, the Gollnhuber family has implemented a series of measures that allow the public to enter. To begin with, all those who want to enter the garden must first register on the Internet or provide their contact details at the entrance. In addition, they have installed an electric winch on the door that closes when the maximum number of people allowed in the premises is exceeded. Once inside, visitors must follow a path that only proceeds in one direction, so that no two groups of people meet face to face on the path. And, of course, the mask is mandatory at all times. “I have fought from the heart, and I hope we can keep it open until January 10,” says Sabine when she talks about the process she has had to follow in order for the authorities to allow her to reopen this Christmas. His goal for the next few years is that “each place in the garden is occupied by inflatable figures”, although he clarifies that after each winter he has to “remove” some that are old. A 10 MONTH JOB Although it takes about four months to assemble the inflatables and place the lights – from August to the end of November – in reality the work of organizing the “House of Christmas” occupies the Gollnhuber for practically the entire year. When the Christmas season ends, it is time to clean and collect, replace the lights that have been damaged and buy new decorations. In addition, it is a great investment of money. Sabine estimates that they spend a total of about 10,000 euros ($ 12,000) each year, of which about 2,000 are dedicated exclusively to paying for electricity. Despite the energy expenditure, the installation is carbon neutral, since all the energy comes from renewable sources. Jorge Dastis (c) EFE Agency

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