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HOT SPRINGS - The Shakespeare Club of Hot Springs is celebrating what would have been its 25th anniversary of sponsoring the Christmas Tour of Homes with events that offer something different this year. A fancy High Tea offering savory sweets and a Tour of Mini Homes, that are all Department 56 pieces, will highlight the club’s Christmas in the Hills events and substitute for the traditional Tour of Homes.

“For the past three years it has been harder and harder to find people willing to open their homes for the tour,” said Charlotte Baldwin of Hot Springs, who is a member of the Tour of Homes committee. “This year we couldn’t find anyone willing to participate.”

The club usually makes about $1,000 from the Tour of Homes that goes back into the community to organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Community Concert Series, the Southern Hills Community Theatre, the Miss South Dakota Scholarship Pageant and about a half dozen others.

“We were very saddened at the prospect of not being able to support these groups,” Baldwin said. “We needed help to keep going.”

As they searched for another fundraiser, one of their members who was moving out of Hot Springs offered the club her vast collection of Department 56 Christmas villages to sell. The 75 pieces are from the Collectors Edition.

Department 56 is comprised of lighted houses and an accessories collection. The characters and accessories create memorable scenes of villages or vignettes. From small town America to the streets of New York and from Victorian England to the sparkling winter wonderland of the North Pole, the villages are created using hand-craftmanship and authentic architectural detail.

A large number of the pieces are on display in the window at The Real Estate Group located at 110 Chicago Ave. They are available for purchase by contacting Rita Fraune at the Works in Clay store, which is next door to the real estate office. Works in Clay is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More villages will be on display and available for purchase at Pine Hills on Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, the Shakespeare Club will have a few of the Department 56 pieces at the Christmas in the Hills Marketplace at the Mueller Center. At that time, the club members will be selling tickets for the High Tea that they will host at the Pine Hills Retirement Community on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for the High Tea cost $5 and can be purchased at the Mueller Center on Saturday and at Pine Hills on Sunday.

“We hope to dress in attire befitting a high tea as we serve with our own china teacups and plates,” Baldwin said. “We want to make it an event that is something special.”

Shakespeare Club is asking anyone who would be willing to open their homes or know someone who would open their home for the Tour of Homes in 2018 to please call their President Joann Walker, 890-2771.

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