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Getting in the holiday spirit: Local office ushers in Christmas

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Gail Garbo tinkers with the display of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” she sculpted out a large piece of Styrofoam.

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Gail Garbo tinkers with the display of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” she sculpted out a large piece of Styrofoam.

Stepping through the door at Southern Footcare is like stepping into a world that includes more than healthy feet.

This Christmas season, elaborate scenes from the Grinch, The North Pole, Frosty the Snowman and four shelves of a town forever stuck in a winter wonderland add a splash of the holiday spirit to the Footcare world

“Doctors’ offices can be so scary,” Gail Garbo said.

Garbo has a fascination with miniature villages and her husband, Joseph Garbo, who owns Southern Footcare gives her free reign to build villages to lighten visitors’ moods.

At first you are greeted with about a 4-feet tall structure into which Garbo sculpted the infamous Grinch’s mountain home. Equipped with mini figurines she’s created a multi-level world in the office’s lobby.

 A train runs along the tracks on the bottom tier of a three-level display Garbo built around the idea of the North Pole complete with Santa’s toy home and toy factory at the top and the Island of Misfit toys at the bottom.

A train runs along the tracks on the bottom tier of a three-level display Garbo built around the idea of the North Pole complete with Santa’s toy home and toy factory at the top and the Island of Misfit toys at the bottom.

“We were taking something to the dump, and I saw it sitting on top,” Garbo said. “At first I thought it was a big rock, but it turned out to be a huge piece of Styrofoam that took two people to carry.”

About a foot away a doorway leads you into a room where Garbo arranged three tables with more carved Styrofoam to create a three-tier depiction of the North Pole. Woven between all three levels is a narrative that follows the evolution of toys built by the elves including the Island of Misfit toys where Rudolf found solace and solidarity.

The North Pole display shows miniature elves building, lounging and playing. A train travels along the bottom layer while above it gumdrop trees punctuate the world of action around them.

“There was a man, he was about 42, and he told me as he was looking that ‘You made me feel like I was 5 again,” Garbo said laughing.

She said people are welcome to come into the office to look at all the displays she hass produced. She said they have kids who come in from next door all the time to sit and look at the displays.

Kristian Channell, a 6-year-old who was in for a checkup, got the grand tour. As Garbo led Channell through the Grinch’s mountainous home and Santa Claus’s stomping grounds, Channell cycled through his knowledge of the material by rattling off questions about what was all included in the scenes before him.

Channell’s parents, Tommy and Denise Channell, said he loves the Christmas season with his birthday, coincidentally, being on Christmas day.

“As soon as Thanksgiving is over we have to put the tree up,” Denise said. “He listens to Christmas songs all year long. He loves it.”

Garbo has been working on the displays since Oct and has been doing a little bit everyday to have the finished displays ready for the start of the season. Southern Footcare’s office houses many displays like these with Garbo’s Halloween display attracting just as much attention from the office’s visiting youth.

“We even have something for the adults,” Garbo said.

Nestled behind the waterfall of lights leading to the Island of Misfit toys sits Garbo’s Tavern which found its inspiration in the fact that Joseph Garbo’s parents used to own a tavern.

“I try to do something new and different every year,” Garbo said. “I have fun doing it.”

Through the doors from the waiting room into the back offices visitors meet a smaller but no less impressive display of Frosty the Snowman’s world, including a train depot, a home and scenes from kids playing among the snow.

Garbo reads scenes from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to Kristian Channell, 6, whose birthday happens to be on Christmas day.

Garbo reads scenes from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to Kristian Channell, 6, whose birthday happens to be on Christmas day.

Stashed below the display are a castle, which Garbo’s daughter bought her, and other remnants of past and future displays.

Garbo said that her materials come from things she finds and repurposes. Like the Styrofoam she reshaped into a geographical structure, Garbo recycled bins that once held packaged kitty litter into caves for the Frosty display. She said she’s used toys that her neighbors are getting rid off to construct her villages. The rest she buys from Dept. 56, Wal-Mart and other places she finds something she likes.

“Next year I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Garbo said. “Inspiration hasn’t hit me yet.”

When visitors go to the restroom in the office, they’ll be met with an even more intricate display of community of homes and lights: miniature families and individuals frozen in a land of lights, cotton-ball snow and wintry goodness.

The displays will be up through Jan. 31, 2015 and Garbo said anyone is welcome to walk in to look at the displays during business hours. Southern Footcare is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.