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Country Living ranks Andalusia, Candyland among top 30 places for Christmas in the nation

Country Living magazine has named Andalusia one of the 30 best small towns in the United States for Christmas, and local officials couldn’t be happier.

Chamber Executive Director Chrissie Duffy said it’s a huge honor.

“Country Living is a national magazine,” she said. “Last year, Southern Living named us one of the best Christmas events in the South. To be recognized as a top Christmas town in the United States takes it a step further.”

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said the ranking speaks highly of many people.

“As you can imagine, we are just thrilled and tickled to death,” he said. “This is not the first time we’ve been recognized. Southern Living named us one of the best last year.

“This peaks well for Chrissie and Maggie (Jones), and the Chamber board,” he said. “A great deal of credit goes to our hard-working city employees who help Chrissie and Maggie run that. It speaks highly of our city in general that people enjoy coming down here. And it just keeps getting bigger and better.”

This year, a maze has been added, and there is a Christmas in Candyland app that helps users capture the magic of Candyland and take it home with them.

The mayor said he’s particularly looking forward to two parts of Candyland.

“First, my grandchildren being here,” he said. “And driving the new train engine.”

Last week, the council agreed to upgrade the train engine that pulls the Candyland Express.

In Country Living’s description and slide show, it wrote, “It doesn’t get too cold in Andalusia, but that doesn’t stop the town turning into a winter wonderland. Every weekend in December, residents flock to Candyland, a kid-friendly event where children of all ages can ice skate, visit the different holiday cottages, and meet Santa. The best part? Admission is free!”

So who are the other 29 small towns that earned the ranking?

  • Solvang, California – Located in wine country, the town hosts Julefest throught December.
  • Lewisburg, West Virginia – Home of the Greenbrier Resort.
  • Bardstown, Kentucky – hosts “Light up Bardstown.”
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – hosts an annual Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens featuring 4,500 hand-lit candles.
  • McAdenville, N.C. – For the past 63 years, this Charlotte suburb has decorated 265 evergreen trees with 500,000 lights.
  • Bernville, Pennsylvania – home of Koziar’s Christmas village, which began in 1948 when William M. Koziar began decorating his home for his family.
  • Leavenworth, Washington – home to a Bavarian village with 21 miles of lights, a lively Christkindlmarkt, a weekly music festival, and gluhwein.
  • Branson, Missouri – hosts the month-long Ozark Mountain Christmas festival. Also home to the Branson Scenic Railway’s Polar Express Train Ride.
  • Woodstock, Vermont – celebrates America’s rural heritage with Wassail Weekend.
  • Asheville, North Carolina – home of the Biltmore, which is lavishly decorated for Christmas.
  • Frankenmuth, Michigan – known as Little Bavaria, activities include a traditional Christkindlmarkt, a holiday home tour, and the world’s largest Christmas store.
  • Jackson, Wyoming – features a town square decked out in lights, and a torch parade of ski instructors snaking down the mountain on New Year’s Eve.
  • Natchitoches, Louisiana – Celebrates with more than 300,000 lights and 100 set pieces displayed along the banks of Cane River Lake.
  • Helen, Georgia – a former logging town in the Blue Ridge Mountains that reinvented itself as a Bavarian town.
  • Williamsburg, Virginia – features Colonial holiday traditions like caroling by torchlight, and fife and drum performances.
  • Durango, Colorado – former mining town operates a Polar Express-inspired train trip for kids, as well as Christmas tree runs on which passengers can cut t heir own trees and get them transported back to town.
  • Delray Beach, Florida – Activities are centered in the historic district, which features a 100-foot tree which opens to reveal a wonderland.
  • Annapolis, Maryland – showcases its 18-th century historic district, and hosts a water parade.
  • Sierra Madre, California – imports snow to build a huge snowman, and is home to a live nativity scene and a 154-tree-long Christmas tree trail.
  • Santa Claus, Indiana – volunteers answer thousands of letters to Santa in this town that has a candy castle and a 1.2-mile light show.
  • Taos, New Mexico – a religious procession in ancient Taos Pueblo, the Native American settlement outside town, includes bonfires, luminarias, and historic gun salute.
  • Oxford, Mississippi – activities include Gingerbread Village to benefit food banks, and an ornament auction featuring unique decorations made by local artists.
  • Fredericksburg, Texas – honors its original German settlers with a Christkindlesmarkt and Texas-scale parades and other events, all featuring locally brewed seasonal beers.
  • Red Wing, Minnesota – home of the Holiday Stroll, an event that starts with a pancake breakfast and continues all day to include parades, cookie decorating, live penguins and baby reindeer.
  • Ogunquit, Maine – Christmas by the sea, featuring a calendar of old-fashioned activities.
  • Corning, New York – home to Corning Glass, the season includes a parade of lights, and a Christmas tree in the town square decorated with glass ornaments.
  • Prescott, Arizona – the courthouse is decorated with a million lights, and a local museum hosts Frontier Christmas Open House.
  • Newport Beach, California – home to the Christmas Boat Parade, featuring everything from yachts to canoes, for five consecutives nights.
  • Dyker Heights, Brooklyn – Residents of this walkable Italian-American enclave erect intricate and spectacular displays on and around their homes in South Brooklyn.