If you've seen it, you'll know exactly what we're talking about. The toy soldier house in Benton has become a Christmas favorite for many families. Every year from Thanksgiving Day to Three Kings Day, the home of Dan and Lena Berry is protected by a full army of miniature soldiers.
“We can’t stop now,” said Dan Berry. “People ‘beep, beep, beep’ and wave.”
Berry spends about five days getting the decorations ready that also includes penguins and snowmen. Lena Berry takes care of the indoors that includes a mantle full of snowmen, a bathroom full of Christmas flamingoes, and Santas take over her piano. Berry said he puts approximately 167 toy soldiers outside.
“It’s really hard to count them all,” Berry said.
He didn’t start out with such a large collection. When they were living in Sheridan 20 years ago, all they had was a string of lights outside on their front porch. They decided to get more festive when they learned their neighbors adopted a 2-year-old boy from Russia.
“Lena said ‘We should put out more stuff for when they bring him home to make it more festive’ and she said ‘What would you like?’ and I said, ‘Some of the toy soldiers they look pretty nice,’” said Berry who adds his wife then bought five or six toy soldiers, starting the collection.
“Now it’s just tradition, I think, for both of us," said Lena Berry.
The tradition grew even more since they moved to Benton in 2005. Berry found them at flee markets, yard sales, and on eBay.
“If we were to stop doing that out front, yeah, I’d get complaints," said Berry. “You can’t go to the store and buy any of this stuff, nobody sells it in the stores anymore."
The army grows each year through gifts and mystery contributors.
"There was a toy soldier where he wasn’t supposed to be stuffed in one of the fake trees over there and I walked up to him he had a sign that said new recruit and nobody's ever made any mention," said Berry.
Berry will call his collection complete once he reaches 200 toy soldiers. He mentioned the blue coat soldiers and he has yet to collect one, but admires their worth.
The house is located at the corner of Highway 5 (Hot Springs Highway) and Beverly Drive in Benton if you want to check out the tiny troop.