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Big wonders in miniature village

Rotterdam family hosts holiday display at senior center to honor daughter

Matthew Macejka, 70, shows his grandson, Roman, the miniature Christmas Village he set up with family and friends at the Rotterdam Senior Center.

Matthew Macejka, 70, shows his grandson, Roman, the miniature Christmas Village he set up with family and friends at the Rotterdam Senior Center. Photo by John Purcell.

— Even the stodgiest Grinch wouldn’t be able to stifle holiday spirit upon entering Dawn’s Christmas Village at the Rotterdam Senior Center. An array of sights and sounds might leave one wondering where to start.

Matthew Macejka, though, will gladly lead visitors along their journeys, and switch on the train to chug around one of several miniature villages on display.

“When everything is playing you can’t really concentrate that much,” Macejka said with a laugh.

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The miniature Christmas village at the Rotterdam Senior Center glows when the lights are turned off.

The collection of miniature village pieces, totaling 110 buildings, belonged to Macejka’s late daughter, Dawn. In honor of his daughter, he’s once again set up the showcase at the Senior Center.

“We used to have this set up at the house, but it got too big,” Macejka said. “Every time we went somewhere, we bought something new and we looked for things that she would like.”

Dawn Macejka Burnham passed away three ago at the age of 37 after a short battle with a rare cancer. The collection started 1994, Macejka said, with a St. Matthew’s Cathedral piece sitting on top of the television. Since then, the miniature collection has ballooned to a massive size.

Each year, family, friends and friends of friends would visit Dawn Macejka’s home in Rotterdam to view the display. The variety of pieces includes a Ferris wheel, Elvis’ Graceland Mansion with a pink Cadillac, a Goodyear blimp hovering above Yankee Stadium and a retro McDonalds.

“We just kept on buying, and she loved it,” Macejka said.

There is even an skating rink called “Rollerama” in the set, sharing its name with the roller rink down the street from the Senior Center. Macejka said he and his daughter just happened to find it. His favorite piece, though, is probably the bowling alley or the garage sale piece.

Two years ago, he setup the village for the first time, but the room he was offered at the Senior Center ended up being too small for everything. Last year, he decided to forgo the display. This year, with a larger room available, the show is up and running again.

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