Owners of National Christmas Center hope for a Christmas miracle to save it from closing

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PARADISE TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- Everyday is Christmas at the National Christmas Center in Paradise Township, Lancaster County.

However, the owners said the center is only seeing one-third of the visitors it should be getting, and money for marketing is dwindling.

And now, the center's days are numbered.

It's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the National Christmas Center, but this could be the last Christmas for the Lancaster County attraction.

Located east of Lancaster City, is a huge collection of everything Christmas...decorations, memorabilia, and much more.

Visitor Sarah Miller said "I think it's amazing. It's one of the best displays of Christmas memorabilia in the whole entire nation."

For anyone who meets founder Jim Morrison, it's easy to see he's a man who embodies the spirit of Father Christmas himself.

"I wanted to recreate a place where the magic and memories, and traditions and history, and the real meaning of Christmas," Morrison said.

Unless there is a Christmas miracle, co-owner Dave Murtagh said the center will have to close for good.

"We just couldn't afford to keep it up with our own money anymore. At 80 years old, I realized where I'm at the point where I really should find someone to continue it," Murtagh said.

Visitor Mary Vivian Wiesner said "it's very sad. I'm so glad we were able to make it. We came down to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter. She brought us here. It's been a treat."

"This is their last season from what I hear, so we're here enjoying it while we can," Miller said.

At least for now,  visitors can follow the path of Mary and Joseph; take a trip through time of Christmases past and present; tour how the holiday is celebrated around the world; and even explore Santa's Workshop.

A man who called himself Santa Claus said "this is a wonderful place. It's brought a lot of joy to a lot of people here in the Paradise area, so it's very sad for us, but it's a great place and brings a lot of joy to people. So, we're looking forward to this Christmas season."

"The thing that keeps me going is when you read the book as they leave. The stories they write in the book about how they liked it. We've never had but one man complain in all these 10 or 15 years that we've been here," Murtagh said.

The final days of the National Christmas Center come down to weeks. It's scheduled to close its doors on Janaury 7th.

"I'm going to try to stop from getting too emotional, because it would be devastating if i did. Just being here today, just seeing these people coming through and seeing the emotions that they're going through, it's going to be hard," Murtagh said.

There is one gift this Christmas that could not only help bring joy, but a sense of relief for the owners...to find a buyer who loves Christmas as much as they do.

"To keep it together would be our number one objective, in this location. Number two would be to have someone buy it and move it somewhere, but that we think is very difficult to do. The thing we don't want to see happen is, to have someone buy it and auction it all off," Murtagh said.

"I just have faith, and that's all I

can have, that it continues," Morrison said.


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