Every year, thousands gather at Ogden's Christmas Village, a tradition since 1962. This year's village has much to offer, whether it's a chance to put in a good word with Santa, mail your wish list, look at the lights or get lost in the village of cottages.

This free display will not leave you or your little ones disappointed. In keeping with the Christmas spirit, I visited downtown Ogden this past weekend to see what it was all about.

After entering Santa's castle and telling him my wish for this year, I was ready to explore the village. I wandered under archways covered in Christmas lights and peeked in windows of cottages to see various Christmas displays.

Numerous local businesses have their own "cottage" complete with lights, elves, Christmas trees and so much more. The true highlight of the Christmas Village is the self-guided tour of each of these displays. Some have a Christmas legend posted, while others are a treat of color and movement.

Hands down, the coolest display detailed the legend of the nutcrackers. In a German mining village, a little boy was left solely in the care of his father, who worked the coalmines. To help the boy feel safe, the father made him a wooden nutcracker soldier to stand guard. Over the years, the father made more and more soldiers to guard his son. The lighted cottage display boasted hundreds of nutcrackers from traditional to modern contemporary.

Grabbing a cup of hot chocolate for $1 (and supporting Shoes for Tots by doing so), I worked my way through the family-sized crowds meandering throughout Ogden Municipal Park. It took over an hour to make the rounds of lifting up kids to peer into the windows of each cottage. Excitement was in the night air as the park filled with more and more patrons.

This family friendly atmosphere is perfect. The village is open nightly, with visits from Santa between 5-9pm Monday through Saturday. There are also day tours of the village guided by Mrs. Claus (call to make reservations at 801-629-8284). Any enthusiast looking for the pace of a self-guided Christmas adventure should visit Ogden Municipal Gardens this year. If you happen catch Santa in your visit, put in a good word for me.