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Tiny World filled with small wonders

December 21, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Walking through Tiny World on a cold evening a few days before Christmas is an other-worldly experience.

The visitor feels far removed from the stresses of the modern holiday season. The 22 buildings in the miniature village are landscaped, lighted and furnished.

Walking on interconnecting dirt paths, visitors can peer into a well-stocked general store, an old-fashioned Texaco station, a log cabin and barn, and many other structures. Lights twinkle on the buildings and shrubbery.

Located between Chambersburg, Pa., and Shippensburg, Tiny World is the creation of Ernest Helm, 80, and his daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Wendell Myers.


Visitors enter through an archway between lighted toy soldiers and candy canes. With Christmas hymns playing from the steeple of the miniature church, families with small children, young couples holding hands, and senior citizens enjoy the variety of architectural styles and furnishings.

Tara, the Southern mansion made famous by the book and film "Gone With the Wind," overlooks the village, covered in snow as it never was in the movie.

Each home in Tiny World has furniture, rugs, bathroom fixtures and Christmas decorations appropriate to its time period.

Tiny World has been attracting visitors for 12 years. Last year, 12,000 visitors signed the guest book, Donna Myers said.

"It's slower this year. We've had rain, snow and ice," she said.

The church and the general store were replaced this year due to weather damage, Myers added. The buildings remain outdoors year-round.

A modern restaurant sporting checkered tablecloths and a coffee maker is modeled after one Helm visited in Texas. One charming older home contains a braided rug and has a rolling pin on the kitchen table.

A baby's room has a walker, rocking horse and a cane-seated rocker. Some buildings have skylights for ease of viewing the interior.

Helm attended the Mainsville School, and has recreated it in Tiny World. Constructed of wood made to look like brick, the building is dated 1939. A photo of each student who attended that year is affixed to the desks.

The centerpiece of Tiny World is the church, with its pivoting choir members, stained glass windows, pews and Christmas tree. The bulletin board proclaims, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."

Donna Myers furnishes all the interiors and created the indoor train display; her father and husband create and maintain the buildings. She said that Tiny World is both a ministry and a hobby.

"Some families bring their kids every year. We want to bring some happiness to others, the way the world is these days," she said.

In that they are successful. Comments overheard on a recent evening were, "This is too cool." "I wish my house looked like that." "The one with the purple lights is my favorite. The cat house!"

Repainted this year, the purple "cat house" is strung with tiny purple lights. The carpeted, unfurnished two-story structure was the first building in Tiny World and is still home to the family's cats.

If you go:

Where: Tiny World, 6720 Rice Road, Shippensburg, Pa.

Directions: Take U.S. 11 north of Chambersburg, Pa. Go through the light at Greenvillage and immediately turn right on Pine Stump Road. Go about two miles and turn left on Rice Road. Tiny World is about a mile on the right.

Hours: Open every evening through Jan. 10.

Admission: Donations requested but not required.

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