Derry woman's holiday miniature collection a tribute to family, love
By Craig Smith
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 9:27 p.m.
Debbie Keegan planted the seed for a new Christmas tradition the day her father died seven years ago.
She gave her mother, Jane Mazurek, 80, of Peanut, Derry Township, a miniature of “Ed's Diner” in honor of her father, “Big Ed” Mazurek, who shared with his wife a love of all things Christmas.
The old-fashioned diner features a couple dancing inside.
“My mom and dad won jitterbug contests when they were dating,” said Keegan, 57, of Derry.
Jane Mazurek's collection of Christmas houses took off from there and has reached the 2,000 mark. This year, she added “Big Ed's International Airport” and “Janie Mae's Regional Airport,” complete with remote-controlled helicopters.
“I think it's time to stop. ... I have no room,” said Jane Mazurek, who put up only two of her four Christmas trees this year because she is running out of space. The train set stayed in the box, too.
Jane and Ed Mazurek, a retired Westinghouse Specialty Metals employee and Navy veteran of the Korean War, lived for Christmas, Keegan said. They had been married for 54 years at the time of his death.
“My dad was my mom's whole life,” Keegan said. “She missed him so much she started to collect and display Christmas houses for my dad.”
The collection takes over Jane Mazurek's living room, as well as a few other rooms of her house, from Thanksgiving until after Christmas.
After carefully unpacking the houses — many from their original boxes — she meticulously places them in displays in just about every room. She has even installed bleacher-like risers to hold the collection.
The living room holds a large international village complete with ski resort and cable cars; a smaller room holds a village that includes the Janie Mae airport. Each year, a new Thomas Kinkade house arrives “from heaven” and is placed in a small room off the kitchen.
The houses climb the stairway. They pop up in the bathroom.
“It is totally amazing, and she does it all herself,” said Keegan.
Included in the collection is a Pittsburgh Steelers house, a talking Thomas Kinkade house that tells the story of “The Night Before Christmas” and a cookie shop.
The former head baker at Derry Area High School, Jane Mazurek isn't sure how much she has paid for her collection. She bought a lot of the houses at garage sales and craft stores, sometimes hand-painting them.
Her electric bill “is not that bad,” she said.
The annual Christmas display has become a family affair.
Debbie Keegan's husband, Kevin, did the wiring for the display, which is operated by remote control.
Mazurek said she recently began collecting Santa Clauses.
“I have about 12 of them,” she said.
Give her a few years.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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