For more than 30 years, Landmark Park has opened its gates to welcome the community to its annual open house. That tradition began in 1979, when the Waddell House was moved to its spot on the park’s Wiregrass Farmstead.
Sunday, Dec. 9, that tradition, called the Victorian Christmas, will once again take center stage. The park will host its annual open house to thank the community for supporting the natural-science park and Wiregrass Farmstead. The free event will be held from 1-4 p.m., and the public is invited to join in the holiday festivities.
“The open house was the first event Landmark Park did,” said Laura Stakelum, public relations director for the park. “It was held in 1979, after the Waddell House was moved here. It was an open house that featured hot cider and traditional desserts. It’s a tradition we’ve kept.”
The Victorian Christmas is a special event for many reasons, Stakelum says.
“This is a smaller, more intimate event than others that we do,” Stakelum continued. “It’s just a half day, and it reflects a bit of a simpler time. I think it’s unique for our area. It’s very relaxing. Guests can listen to good music and sample good desserts.”
Stakelum also notes it’s a prime time for members of the community to see the park for the first time.
“The Victorian Christmas is an opportunity for people who may not have visited the park before to come out and visit,” she said. “Hopefully, they will join us on December 9.
“This is our way of saying thank you, by waiving the admission fee, to the community, and, it’s also an opportunity to support the (Wiregrass Area United Way) Food Bank. We’re encouraging visitors to bring non-perishable food items or make monetary donations to assist the Food Bank and Landmark Park.”
The Victorian Christmas will also provide guests the opportunity to do a little holiday shopping.
“We will have arts and crafts vendors on site,” she said. “They provide a great shopping opportunity. We will also have Landmark Park memberships for sale. A family membership is just $60 a year. With that, all children and grandchildren under the age of 18 and two adults have admission to the park. It pays for itself quickly.”
It should be noted that those memberships provide admission to the park 362 days out of the year. The park is closed only three days – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The Victorian Christmas provides an opportunity for visitors to see a traditional farmstead Christmas dating from the 1890s. The Waddell House will be the center of many of those activities. The aroma of hot chocolate and the mouth-watering dessert sampler will certainly draw guests. Once inside, visitors will enjoy delicious desserts (tea cakes, divinity, pound cakes and more) while listening to traditional Christmas music provided by the Landmark Dulcimer Club.
A stroll down the path to the Watson House will lead guests to the warmth of a fire burning in open hearth. A traditional refreshment of the period, mulled cider, will be available for all to enjoy.
A visit to the park’s church will afford guests the opportunity to listen to holiday music provided by area piano students. While there, a circuit-riding preacher, arriving on a horse-drawn wagon, will present a special Christmas message.
Meanwhile, in the Victorian gazebo, members of the Wiregrass Home School Band will provide more festive music for the occasion.
A visit to the Brown’s Crossroads School House offers a glimpse into a special holiday tradition – the community Christmas tree – and the opportunity to make decorations for it.
“The decorations will be typical of the 1890s to 1920s period,” Stakelum said. “We will use natural materials, like cotton and natural greenery, to make the ornaments and decorations. In this time period, the Christmas trees were not in people’s houses. The trees were in the center of the community. For convenience, we have put it in the school house. Participants can make decorations and put them on the tree, or they can make one to take home.”
Two non-holiday events happen to coincide with the Victorian Christmas. The park’s digital planetarium will have shows running that afternoon. And, since the event falls on the second Sunday of the month, guests can take part in the park’s reptile feeding program at 4 p.m.
For more information about the Victorian Christmas or other events offered at Landmark Park, visit www.landmark.com or call 794-3452.