Santa's Workshop

BY GINNA PARSONS

Daily Journal

TUPELO – It's enough to make Santa and the elves proud – thousands of square feet filled with gourmet foods, cookware, bakeware, women's and children's clothing, toys, home decor, pottery, jewelry, antiques, books, stationery, rugs and candles.

If that's not enough, there'll also be live plants and herbs, linens from France, mini-massages, Christmas ornaments and decorations, garden art, gourmet oils, on-the-spot monogramming, crafts, camouflage clothing and gifts for Fido.

Did we mention free gift wrapping? Round-the-clock entertainment? Five restaurants from which to choose delicious meals?

And get this. It's all under one roof.

If this sounds familiar, it should. This marks the fourth year the Sanctuary Hospice House Auxiliary and its hundreds of volunteers will produce what has become a must-do holiday experience: Celebration Village.

Pampering optional

Beginning with a Preview Party on the evening of Oct. 26 and running for an additional three jam-packed days, Celebration Village will showcase 125 vendors from all over the country. Several will be from Mississippi, but many others are traveling from Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida and Colorado to sell their wares.

“We have people coming from all over the U.S.,” said Nancy Collins, president of the Sanctuary Hospice House board of directors and chairman of Celebration Village. “I would say over half of our vendors are new to us but we probably have 40 vendors returning who have been here every year.”

The shopping extravaganza again will be housed in Building V at the Tupelo Furniture Market.

“This market should be comparable to last year's, if not a little larger,” Collins said. “Last year, we said 15,000 people came through our doors, but to tell you the truth, I think that's a little conservative.”

Most people attend the four-day market to shop, but that's not all that's offered.

When you don't think you can stand one more minute, IV's, Heavenly Ham, Vanelli's, Southern Pride and The Village Cafe will be happy to prepare a hot meal to fortify you. And if it's not food you crave, The Village Spa is bringing in area massage therapists to do shoulder massages and mini-manicures.

“Every year we try to listen to the vendors and listen to the customers to make sure we have what they want,” Collins said. “We think we've done that this year.”

Help for the dying

Celebration Village will again host a Preview Party, featuring heavy hors d'oeuvres prepared by area chefs and served by tuxedo-clad doctors, on opening night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $50 and a limited number will be sold.

The following morning, a Jazz Brunch will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. A limited number of $20 tickets include a delicious meal, New Orleans jazz and crowd-free shopping. Afterward, the market will open to the general public for the next three days. Shopping hours this year have been extended into the evening.

“We've expanded our hours because there were so many people all over Northeast Mississippi and Northwest Alabama who couldn't get here after work,” Collins said.

Other special events during the market include a photo-op with Santa; Rudolph's Reruns, a gently used toy store; free gift wrapping, with tips optional; and demonstrations on holiday decorating, food artistry and food preparation. In addition, musical entertainment will be provided daily by area choirs and musicians.

All proceeds from Celebration Village go toward the Sanctuary Hospice House, a free-standing facility that will provide compassionate care to the dying, regardless of the ability to pay.

Last year, the event raised $256,000; that money went toward the cost of the building on Highway 6, furnishings and equipment. This year, proceeds will actually go toward patient care, Collins said.

“We'd like to do at least $250,000 this year,” she said. “We think we'll do better than that.”

Contact Ginna Parsons at 678-1581 or ginna.parsons@djournal.com