Christmas came early for residents of Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

The annual Christmas in the Village celebration brought residents and their families together for the village's biggest event of the year.

Breckenridge is a faith-based community for adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, according to its website.

The event featured performances by Tyler Junior College's Harmony and Understanding, Candy Crocker Dance Studio, the Breckenridge Choir and Rhythm Rockers and more.

Clay Wallstein has lived at Breckenridge for nearly 10 years. The Christmas event is his favorite activity of the year.

"It's great, it's wonderful," Clay said. His favorite aspect of the event was the food.

His father, Cliff, was on hand to celebrate with him. He said the past decade has helped his son develop at a pace he probably would not have while living at home.

"It's just a place for them to grow and branch out on their own," Cliff said. "It's hard to say in a conversation how he's grown. He can use a computer - I hate to say it, but he's better than I am. All of that new electronic stuff he's learned, if he had been at home, he probably wouldn't have."

Cliff said Clay loves the everyday activities that Breckenridge involves its residents in. Clay is especially partial to the greenhouse and fern caretaking jobs.

Scott Stagner echoed Cliff Wallstein's sentiments about the facility.

"I think she was blessed to get here," Stagner said of his daughter, Leigh. "It's a big family, extended family, away from her family back in Dallas."

"I love it out here," Leigh said.

Leigh has lived at Breckenridge for three years now, but said this year's Christmas in the Village was the best one yet.

Last year was cold and rainy, she said.

"Shopping and being with my friends" is what Leigh was most looking forward to during the event.

Jason Geslois, director of special events, said residents ask him about the Christmas event throughout the year. He said the event is tough to put on, with so many different aspects to manage, but the residents are worth it.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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