Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland is a holiday-themed retail store located at 25 Christmas Lane in Frankenmuth, Michigan (“Michigan’s Little Bavaria”). From humble beginnings, the store increased its size over several expansions to become a favorite year round tourist destination for more than two million guests annually.
Founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner (who died April 1, 2008 at age 81), the business is known as the “World’s Largest Christmas Store.”
According to the Bronner website, “Wally only worked the days of the week that ended in “Y” and “for Wally Bronner, the journey has always been about CHRIST, and decorating hearts with peace and love.”
The popular tourist attraction is open 361 days a year. The store is closed New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland resides on 27 acres, 7.5 of which are set aside for the building that houses their massive retail store measuring 320,000 sq.ft, the equivalent of 5.5 football fields. Every evening Bronner’s ½-mile long Christmas Lane glistens with thousands of twinkling lights.
The store’s inventory includes a huge variety of Christmas trims and gifts, including personalized ornaments, artificial trees and accessories (showroom floors are decorated with more than 300 trees), indoor and outdoor Christmas lights, stockings and hangers, Nativity scenes, Santa suits, hats and accessories, and collectibles, for example, an exclusive selection of Precious Moments Christmas-themed figurines.
Amidst this beautiful holiday landscape is the Silent Night Memorial Chapel, a faithful reproduction of the St. Nicholas Church built in 1818 in the little town of Oberndorf, Austria, near Salzburg. It was in this very church that the song “Silent Night” was written and first sung, accompanied by a guitar.
Wally Bronner so admired the chapel, while on a tour of Europe, that he obtained permission in 1989 from Oberndorf city officials, and set out to create the 28′ x 28′ x 56′ octagonal replica for Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.
The lyrics of “Silent Night” are displayed in over 300 languages along the lamppost lined walkway near the chapel which was dedicated on November 20, 1992. The church greets guests from the south entrance to the city of Frankenmuth, Michigan. “Silent Night” can be heard inside and outside the chapel grounds.
Bronner’s display also includes a life-size nativity. Inside, guests may view the message of Christ’s birth as told in Luke 2:1-19, in 30 different languages. The inspirational landmark is fully illuminated at night, and open daily for visitation and meditation. It is not intended for services or ceremonies.
As of 1999, Beamer, the Bronner Star (who has a sunny disposition, radiant smile, and twinkling eyes) is the store’s official mascot. He was developed in conjunction with the making of the video, “Christmas Dreams Come True at Bronner’s.” His cousins are Shimmer, Dimmer, Glimmer, and Trimmer. Beamer was designed by staff artist Connie Larsen.
Here are some more Bronner’s CHRIStmas Wonderland trivia highlights:
- Every evening Bronner’s ½-mile long Christmas Lane glistens with thousands of twinkling lights.
- The 200,000 lights that decorate the showroom and grounds cost the store $1250 a day to operate.
- Over 125,000 light sets are sold annually – enough to span 485 miles when connected together.
- As many as 19000 children come to visit Santa annually from Thanksgiving through Christmas eve.
- During the peak season, Bronner’s employs over 700 staff members.
- 230,000 packages shipped around the globe each year.
- Over 3 million catalogs are distributed annually.
Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland
25 Christmas Lane
Frankenmuth, Michigan 48734