HCHS looks for help to welcome back holidays

HCHS looks for help to  welcome back holidays

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The Holmes County Historical Society always anticipates the joy its annual holiday season program brings with the Victorian House turning into a huge Christmas house for Christmas, but this year it has decided to change things up a bit and introduce some new decorating plans into the holiday season.

In past years the HCHS has welcomed area businesses and organizations into the Victorian House, offering one room for each to crank up their creative juices and decorate in any Christmas-theme style they choose.

Last year COVID-19 stopped that from happening, and with the virus lurking again this year, the board decided to take on the decorating chore themselves as a safety measure.

Mark Boley, HCHS executive director, said the timing allowed the HCHS to do something they have been talking about for some time.

“After more than 15 years, it was time to do a complete makeover of our holiday program at the Victorian House for 2021,” Boley said. “The old program had various businesses and individuals doing the actual decorating of the house. This year with the generous support of our community, we hope to have all the decorating done by our historical society members and staff based on a whole house design to provide continuity of theme.”

For years the theme has been “Home for the Holidays,” but after missing last year and amidst the changes taking place, this year’s theme will be “Welcome Home for the Holidays.”

Paul Lahm, who heads up the decorating committee along with Harry Wilson, said creating a winter wonderland of glowing lights and Christmas beauty serves several purposes. With this year’s theme titled “Welcome Home,” he said one of the hopes of the committee is it helps people return to their roots of the awe of Christmas when families would make tracks for grandma’s house for the holidays.

“We want to create that joy of the season that we all remember as little kids,” Lahm said. “There is something special and unique about our memories of grandma’s house at Christmas.”

He said another main reason this serves as such an important time for the HCHS is it helps bring awareness to the value the HCHS provides for the county.

“In presenting the Victorian House in new ways like this, a big goal is to build awareness of this uniquely incredible home we have right in our own back yard,” Lahm said. “We believe that we have such a special group of people in our historical society who are all passionate about preserving and presenting our history. This is one exciting way we can share that with the public.”

The third ideal in presenting “Welcome Home for the Holidays” is it can serve as way to bring people together and create a sense of unity and joy at a time when it is very much needed.

“We obviously faced a lot of limitations last year with the pandemic, so we put together the winter wonderland display outside, and it was beautiful,” Lahm said. “It was gratifying to hear people talk about the joy that display gave them. I think it touched people’s lives at a time when we all needed a little joy in our lives, and it was uplifting to people’s spirits.”

Lahm said while the committee will tackle the challenge of decorating the Victorian House during a two-week span after Halloween, the public still plays a key role in allowing them to do so by donating toward the decorations.

According to Boley, the HCHS has already had some donations of new trees, lights and more from Lowe’s in Wooster and New Philadelphia and Balsam Hill Trees. However, he said there are many more decorations that need purchased to make the Victorian House come to life with Christmas beauty. The board is currently seeking monetary donations to help upgrade the decorations and produce a whole new look this year. All donors will be listed in all advertising and signage, and each will receive free passes for the season.

Lahm said the HCHS members are grateful to all the individuals, businesses and organizations that help light up the Victorian House each year, saying they help bring more joy than they can ever imagine to the people who tour the house or drive by to see the winter wonderland display outside.

While the holiday season is still a couple months away, now is the time the HCHS needs to receive donations that will allow them to purchase the lights, bulbs, decorations and trees that will adorn the house and turn it into a Christmas icon.

“The holiday committee is working hard at this new task,” Boley said. “Our winter wonderland of outside lights will make a comeback this year due to its popularity last year. Some of the donation dollars will go toward outside decoration upgrades as well.”

The holiday open house will take place Nov. 20 from 4-8 p.m. with tours continuing daily through Dec. 31. For those who have been on a Christmas tour of the house, it is a welcomed homecoming. For those who have yet to venture through each room of the Victorian House when it is donned in Christmas garb, it sets the tone for a festive holiday season.

“The Victorian House is just stunning when it is decorated,” Boley said. “With the outside decorations, it is incredible, but once people get to experience the entire house in all of its Christmas décor, it is something that can really brighten the holiday season.”