Christmas Village History

Christmas Village was originated in 1961 by members of the Nashville Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club as a means to increase the financial contributions to the Bill Wilkerson Hearing and Speech Center. The club’s support began because Bill Wilkerson’s two sisters, Nancy Fawn Wilkerson Diehl and Jane Wilkerson Yount were both members of the Vanderbilt Pi Beta Phi chapter and recruited their sorority sisters to assist in many ways in the early years after it opened in 1951. The alumnae club followed by raising money for the center. Berenice Miller Denton and Barbara White Fridrich, the first co-chairs planned a Christmas fairyland with displays from local merchants. The event started as a one-day event that netted $1020 and has grown to a 4-day shopping extravaganza that is recognized as one of the premier shopping events in the southeast, attended by nearly 30,000 shoppers and more than 260 merchants from around the country.

Christmas Village Milestones

  • 1961 First Christmas Village at the Hippodrome: one-day event, netted $1020
  • 1968 Christmas Village moved to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds
  • 1973 A second building is added. Cumulative donations from Christmas Village top $100,000
  • 1975 The name and logo of Christmas Village are trademarked in the state of TN
  • 1981 Sneak A Peek - the exclusive preview night on Thursday of the event is added
  • 1986 Event raises more than $100,000 for the first time
  • 1987 Cumulative donations top $1 million
  • 1988 The Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute at the Bill Wilkerson Center opens with seed money from proceeds from Christmas Village and the dream of a key member of the Nashville Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club, Suzanne Allen
  • 1991 The tradition of red curtains and carpet and standardized booth sizes, volunteers all wear Christmas Village t-shirts for the first time
  • 2011 The current logo is designed, tagline of More than 50 years of Shopping and Giving is adopted and tickets are sold online for the first time
  • 2014 Past year’s volunteer t-shirts are sold for the first time
  • 2015 Cumulative donations top $10 million