By on December 27, 2012

Mike Oran, who, along with wife Gemma, owns the Campo Marina Cafe and Restaurant in Osoyoos, says his wife deserves most of the credit for creating the wonderful holiday ‘community’ they have set up inside their restaurant over the past seven years. Gemma has been collecting holiday ornaments and miniatures for the past 35 years. Putting together the annual display is a lot of work, but a labour of love for his family. Photo by Richard McGuire.

It started out as a couple of buildings, but now it’s grown into a busy thriving community.
This may sound like the story of a rapidly growing Okanagan community, but the miniature village and ski resort at the Campo Marina Café and Restaurant in Osoyoos has been getting bigger and bigger every year – even though its people and buildings are tiny.
The village and ski resort are the work of Gemma and Mike Oran, who own the restaurant.
Gemma started collecting the ornaments 35 years ago and the restaurant has been displaying the miniatures for about seven years.
“It’s a labour of love,” says Mike. “We don’t think of it as something to attract people. My wife enjoys doing it.”
But it does attract people who marvel at the little moving trains, merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, skaters and other figures dancing around the little buildings and parks.
Customers really love it, says Mike.
“They always come back and bring other people to show. It’s wonderful. They bring their children,” he said.
The first piece that Gemma bought was a drug store from the Christmas classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. The store was named “Gower’s”, and Gower happens to be Gemma’s maiden name.
From there, the collection has rapidly escalated. Whenever the couple travels on holidays, they spot stores selling Christmas miniatures, even throughout the year in places like Florida.
The car pulls over and Gemma goes shopping.
“I have to leave her there for a few hours,” says Mike. “I take off to a mall or something and come back and pick her up.”
Gemma was away and unavailable when the Osoyoos Times visited Campo Marina.
The couple sometimes finds pieces closer to home at stores such as Rona Building Centre and Canadian Tire.
“A lot of these pieces they’re maybe out for a year or two, but if you don’t pick them up then, they’re discontinued, so you have to,” says Mike.
Although not all of the pieces are in perfect scale, they fit together well, giving the appearance of a busy village on one large display and a ski resort on the other
The village is not supposed to represent a particular real part of the world.
“It’s fiction,” says Mike.
Last year the couple spent four weeks putting it together, but this year they only took half as long as they have it down to a science.
Foam underlays are all numbered so they know where they go.
The couple is closing the restaurant over Christmas until they reopen on January 8, but they plan to keep the village and ski resort on display throughout January for anyone who may have missed it.
Because the attraction has been so popular, Mike says the holiday display will continue being part of Campo Marina for many years to come.
His customers would be disappointed if they didn’t, he said smiling.

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