SOMERS POINT — So much of holiday memories are tied to sights and sound.
For more than 50 years Gaudio’s (and later “G” Boys) Garden Shop helped create holiday memories in their animated Christmas land. They were a mainstay in the Camden County area, going from garden center in the spring and summer to a Christmas wonderland in the fall. That whimsical holiday spirit that spans half a century is now part of Christmas near the shore at McNaughton’s on New Road.
Ralph Gaudio and his crew started work in August to take a section of McNaughton’s previously used for Christmas trees and holiday decorations and turn it into McNaughton’s Christmas animated land, very similar to the one families have strolled with their children for five decades. It’s a walk into a happy holiday, and everywhere, something is moving.
Gaudio said more than 500 animated pieces are part of his nostalgic Christmas village. Mrs. Claus helps Santa check the naughty and nice list in one corner of the North Pole, the mice are decorating a Christmas tree in another, and Santa has a candy-construction team in the middle of the animated land along with other vignettes.
He said “G” Boy’s Garden Store closed its doors several years ago and moved its Christmas Village to a Philadelphia shop for a few holiday seasons, but they wanted to get back to South Jersey and revive the memory so many have grown up with. “I cannot even tell you how many people tell me they remember coming to “G” Boys with their parents and grandparents every year. I am so happy I can help a new generation enjoy the family time spent together walking through and looking at all of the characters in our animated wonderland."
Gaudio hopes that families will enjoy both locations, 331 New Road, inside the Somers Point McNaughton’s, and the McNaughton’s at 351 Kresson Road in Cherry Hill. They are both animated, but each one is different. In order to make the trip to visit the other McNaughton site an enjoyable and affordable family outing, Gaudio has teamed with a few local restaurants to offer discounts. If you visit the Somers Point location, you will receive coupons for a discount at several eateries near the Cherry Hill store.
To encourage the Cherry Hill clientele to take a trip to the shore, they will get coupons to Fitzpatrick Steakhouse, Sal’s Coal Fired Pizza and McDonald’s. “We want families to come and enjoy themselves. They can visit us and have a great time, relive a nostalgic Christmas and save money on dinner for the family,” said Gaudio.
They will offer specials for clubs and school trips to see the animated Christmas village. The animation opens at noon daily. Santa is there 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5:30 p.m. Sundays, and then every day except Thanksgiving starting Nov. 20 through Dec. 24. There will also be face painting.
Children younger than 5 are free and everyone else is $4 a person. Children will receive a treat and fun book.