HomeFeaturesA holiday Animation Wonderland

A holiday Animation Wonderland

Bruce Szymborski in front of the Keebler elves.
Bruce Szymborski in front of his penguin display.

Bruce Szymborski was 7 when he began creating an enchanted Christmas village in the basement of his Rhawnhurst home.

The Northeast Times chronicled his work in a 1982 story, when he was 16.

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After all these years, Szymborski still lives on Griffith Street and continues to create Christmas magic.

Only now, he’s now a partner with Ralph Gaudio in G-Boys Animation Wonderland at McNaughton’s Garden and Landscaping in Cherry Hill.

Szymborski, now 57, has spent the last 35 years creating holiday displays in malls and businesses, the last eight at McNaughton’s.

“I’ve been fascinated with electrical and mechanical stuff since I was a little kid,” he said. “It’s been a lifelong hobby of mine. I’m always tinkering with things.”

As a youngster, Szymborski enjoyed looking at elaborate home holiday decorations and visiting the old Gaudio’s when it was decorated during the holidays. Over the years, his work has been on display during the holidays at Kindy’s, G-Boys, Woodhaven Mall, D Boys on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough, the Village Mall in Horsham, the Burlington Center Mall and Main Street storefronts in Flemington, New Jersey.

At McNaughton’s, Szymborski starts decorating around Labor Day. In all, he has about 400 pieces. About 100 are on display each year in a rotation. The other items are kept in his home or in a warehouse in Holmesburg.

This year’s theme is cartoons.

“I have enough stuff that I change it every year,” Szymborski said.

This year, visitors on self-tours will see snow, snowmen, snowflakes, lighted and decorated trees, candy cane cutouts, soldiers, penguins, eskimos, Dalmations, a pond, Santa’s mailbox and candy shop, a mouse cooking cheeseburgers at McDonald’s and characters such as Keebler elves, Dennis the Menace, Winnie the Pooh and friends, Muppets, Sesame Street favorites, the Jetsons, Batman, the Rugrats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

And it’s all set to holiday music.

“There’s a little bit of everything,” Szymborski said.

The Times visited the Wonderland on a recent Sunday morning, and the place was packed with families.

“It’s nice when I see people get enjoyment out of it,” Szymborski said.

Szymborski said the display can get costly and time consuming, but portions stay up year round and he gets plenty of assistance from Ralph Gaudio, Nick Kulina and his godson, Matt Zmijewski, along with McNaughton’s workers.

“The staff here’s a big help,” he said.

Szymborski has done some Easter displays and a Halloween attraction at the old G Boys in Marlton.

“I still consider it a hobby, and I’m not ready to get out of it yet,” he said.

G-Boys Animation Wonderland is open through New Year’s Eve. It’s closed on Christmas. ••

McNaughton’s Garden and Landscaping, 351 Kresson Road in Cherry Hill, is open Sunday and Monday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The cost is $6 to visit the G-Boys Animation Wonderland, or free for kids under 5. Separately, there is a concession stand, face painting and photos with Santa at the North Pole Cafe.

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