Holiday magic starts at home |

Holiday magic starts at home

Summit Daily/Reid Williams Katie and Rick McCool's Gold Flake home features a miniature holiday wonderland of model trains, ice skaters, skiers and villages.

BRECKENRIDGE – The angels greet you first.White ballerina angels. A mouse making angel patterns in the snow. Stained glass angels. They belong to Katie and Rick McCool and emerge during the holidays to enchant visitors when they walk in the front door.The McCool’s house will be one of five featured in Sunday’s Holiday Tour of Homes, presented by Applause!, which raises 15 percent of the Breckenridge Music Institute’s total budget, said president Eileen Finkel.The angels are only the beginning though.Miniature village homes dominate the 26-foot length of the McCool’s livingroom wall. Four train sets run through the mountain town Rick McCool built out of wood, cardboard and plaster cloth. A German HO-scale train runs around the perimeter of town.The McCool’s divided the winter wonderland into two distinct areas: the North Pole and the Village in the City, which are both types of Department 56 miniature villages.Elves populate the North Pole, which features a sledding hill and a waterfall with a lake.

In the village, people ski – possibly envying the skiers at Breckenridge Ski Resort, which the villagers would see if they looked past their village and out the McCool’s grand windows.The two worlds meet at the skating pond, which lies near the McCool’s 13-foot Christmas tree.The tree is just one of four in the McCool home. It holds the most precious family memories.She dedicates a smaller tree to her son, who died when he was 21. Underneath sit his favorite childhood toys. She saves this tree for last and puts it up by herself.In another corner, the White House tree shines with golden ornaments from the White House Historic Society.Upstairs a Victorian tree complements her lilac room and handmade bedspread.Normally, the couple spends at least a week spreading their particular brand of holiday cheer throughout the house. This year, Rick McCool spent two weeks just building the bridges, waterfall and lake in the North Pole.

Katie McCool began her collector fever long before she married her husband 13 years ago. But he joined in immediately, and the couple planned to buy one Department 56 house for every year of marriage.”Now (it looks like) we’ve been married for 90 years,” she said.The couple cringes to think about how much they’ve spent on holiday decor, but they estimate it at about $10,000. Katie McCool has tried to stop collecting, but she keeps finding new angels and houses and wants more Santas, she said.”We tell the kids this is their inheritance,” she said.And that’s only one houseThe tour begins with refreshments at Betty Sue’s and Ernie Harris’ house, which has a Southwestern flair, right down to the Christmas decor.

Judy and Leon Fetzer’s home features Christopher Redko ornaments, family antiques, artist Lynn Haney’s Santas and a collection of Byers Carolers. Green granite floors and warm colors throughout contribute to the festive atmosphere.Jan and Frank Veranth’s home is more formal than the others, said Ann Grill, event chairperson. A great room with a huge expanse of windows makes the perfect setting for their 18-foot Christmas tree decorated in gold.Janeen and Dick Yankowski’s home is the newest on the tour. Built in 2001, the architecture reflects that of a castle. The tree’s ornaments represent more than 40 years of collection, and the mangers are a sight to behold.Grill expects about 50 people, which will split into groups and tour each home.Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, call (970) 453-7462.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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