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|Enjoy the Holidays in Missouri|
|News Releases - Travel & Tourism|
|Written by Mary Oberreither|
|Monday, 18 November 2013 14:41|
Independence, Mo. – If you thought getting your home ready for the holidays was time consuming, imagine decorating more than 20 rooms in anticipation of 2,000 guests.
That’s the challenge facing a group of nearly 30 volunteers working up to nine hours a day preparing Vaile Mansion in Independence for its annual holiday celebration. The beautiful landmark home will have more than its halls decked from Nov. 29-Dec. 30, when it hosts a “Victorian Winter Wonderland.”
“These volunteers spend hours and hours getting the mansion ready,” says Carolyn Hanes, chairperson of this year’s holiday event and herself a volunteer decorator. “Even the smallest tree can take up to two hours to decorate.”
Multiply that time by anywhere from 50 to 75 trees and you get some idea of how much effort volunteers and Vaile Mansion staff put into this event.
And that’s just for the trees.
Vaile Mansion, built in 1881 for Col. and Mrs. Harvey Vaile, features 31 rooms and includes nine marble fireplaces, painted ceilings and a 48,000-gallon wine cellar. The home, known as one of the best examples of Second Empire architecture in the U.S., cost more than $100,000 to complete. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the holidays, the mansion retains its Victorian charm by ensuring era-appropriate traditions are honored. One such example is a five-foot-tall Christmas tree hung upside down to replicate the look of a chandelier; it’s found in the grand entryway.
“That’s original Victorian – that’s how they used it,” says Hanes. “It’s kind of our showpiece every year.”
That showpiece, along with the attention to detail given every section of the mansion, keeps visitors coming back year after year, Hanes says.
“I think people are just blown away by the chandeliers, marble fireplaces and the 14-foot ceilings,” Hanes says. “We’re able to have 12-foot-tall trees in a room, and the rooms are very spacious. It’s so opulent … every room is filled to the brim.”
Hanes says event organizers like to refer to Vaile Mansion as “America’s Christmas Castle,” though she points out people from around the world have taken notice of the annual event. In 2012, visitors from 20 countries were represented in the guestbook.
One of the major highlights of the month-long event is the annual twilight tour, held the first Sunday in December (Dec. 1 this year). The twilight tours include live music and refreshments for attendees.
“It’s getting dark (when tours begin) and everything is sparkling inside,” says Hanes. “A lot of people enjoy coming in the evening because you get to see what the mansion looks like ‘after hours.’”
Victorian Winter Wonderland tours at Vaile Mansion are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday thru Saturday, and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 30 (no tours Dec. 23-25). Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for ages 6-18; and free for children ages 5 and younger.
The twilight tours event is 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 1; admission prices are the same.
Across the state from Vaile Mansion, the city of St. Charles hosts one of Missouri’s most popular celebrations, Christmas Traditions.
From Nov. 29-Dec. 24, Main Street, in the downtown historic district, comes to life with music and costumed actors portraying beloved holiday characters. Don’t miss appearances by Santas from around the world, shopping and dining options along Main Street and the beautiful decorations adorning the entire district.
Every Saturday and Sunday during the festival, Santa and Mrs. Claus lead a parade (each begins at 1:30 p.m.), while Wednesdays and Fridays bring late-evening shopping options.
Carolers, along with a local fife and drum corps, take part in live performances presented during the annual Christmas Traditions festival, where horse-drawn carriage rides are available.
Find details and the full schedule of activities online at StCharlesChristmas.com.
Throughout Missouri, seasonal celebrations take place in large cities and small towns, offering visitors an array of choices, from parades and drive-through light parks to live music and regional cuisine. Here’s a look at more Missouri celebrations designed to get you in the mood for this splendid season.
For other holiday happenings, check out the Missouri Division of Tourism’s blog, which has a more complete listing of events.
There you have it, a look at some of the events found in Missouri during the holiday season. Again, to find a more complete list, please visit the Missouri Division of Tourism’s blog site.
About the Missouri Division of Tourism
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