MADISON, Ala. - A very special Christmas village in Limestone County has brought holiday joy to all who visit for decades, but it almost didn't happen this year.
Head to the back corner of the Limestone Flea Market, and step into another world.
"I watch adults turn into kids," said Richard Jones, owner of the Christmas village at Limestone Flea Market.
The extensive display is only about half of his collection of around 6,000 pieces.
"That little white house with the two red chimneys, that's piece number one. She found a building that was as close to an exact replica as we could find of a house that her mother was born in Tennessee," he explained. "She fired it, painted it, and decided to do the rest of the farm."
31 years later there's the farm, a petting zoo, a harbor, a Walmart and around 200 other buildings. The Christmas village is free to attend, but visitors can donate to Forever Young Senior Veterans. Jones himself is a veteran and is happy to give back to different groups every year, but this year there almost wasn't a Christmas village.
"This year's very tough. I lost my wife in September. I wasn't going to do this and something said I had to," he added.
Every year, his wife Candy would set the buildings and he would do the wiring. He says doing it all himself this year was different.
"She was with me, she kicked me in the behind a couple times because I didn't do it the way she wanted it," he said.
Jones spends his own money and around a month of his time setting it up, creating intricate details. You could look every day until Christmas and still find hidden gems.
"It's been a labor of love, for everything," he stated.
He said while it's not the same without candy, his Christmas angel is still there in the smiles on the faces of all who visit.
The Christmas village is open to the public and free to visit. It is at the Limestone Flea Market 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. every weekend until the new year.