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Published: Tuesday, 12/9/2008

Event decks halls of Manor House

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledoan Kaye Stephens, left, and Sue Cohen of Sylvania tour the displays at the 33rd annual 'Holidays in the Manor House.' Toledoan Kaye Stephens, left, and Sue Cohen of Sylvania tour the displays at the 33rd annual 'Holidays in the Manor House.'
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Lights, angels, snowflakes, jingling bells, wreaths, greenery, and Christmas trees wherever your eye lands.

On Sunday, the Toledo Area Metroparks kicked off the 33rd annual "Holidays in the Manor House," an event expected to draw 15,000 visitors to the mansion in Wildwood Preserve Metropark.

The home has more than 30 decorated rooms, hallways, foyers, alcoves, nooks, and crannies, organizers of the event said.

Decorators must apply to participate nearly 12 months ahead of time, and the rooms are decorated differently every year, said Janet Rozick, historic programs manager for the metroparks.

That guarantees a unique mix of snowmen, poinsettias, reindeer, mittens, ornaments, candy canes, ribbons, icicles, and every other kind of holiday decoration.

Mary Iott of Petersburg, Mich., reads Christmas wish lists as she tours the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark. Mary Iott of Petersburg, Mich., reads Christmas wish lists as she tours the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark.
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"A lot of people come to get [decorating] ideas for their own house," Ms. Rozick said.

In addition to the more traditional, it also ensures there will be an eclectic mix of collectibles and various themes, such as the patriotic Santas on display, the "Silver Screen Christmas" room filled with old movie memorabilia, and the Curious George-themed display.

There's also the "Spotted cats" room with about 80 stuffed toy jaguars, cheetahs, and leopards.

Kerry Hamrick, who helped put the display together with her 11-year-old son, Isaac, said she and her children love going to the Manor House during the Christmas season every year, and wanted to be a part of the tradition.

Other rooms include a breast cancer survivors theme, one decorated by local chapters of The Lupus Foundation of America, a Hanukkah room, and a Kwanzaa display.

"It's such a nice event," said Marcy Sieczkowski, who was admiring decorations yesterday afternoon. "We have things like this in the city of Toledo, we should take advantage of it."

The Manor House was the home of Robert Stranahan, co-founder of Champion Spark Plug Co., and his wife, Page, who lived there until the 1960s. The building originally was known as Stranleigh.

"It gets you in the spirit of Christmas, I think," said Eleanor Hall, a volunteer who helps guide people through the house. "You're not going to see a home like this anymore. It's from a different era."

Built between 1936 and 1938, the building is Georgian Colonial style.

One of the outside displays was made by adults with developmental disabilities employed at the nonprofit Lott Industries, said Michelle Radtkin, enrichment specialist with Lucas County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

"We actually spend a lot of time at the parks," she said. "[Decorating] is a way our consumers can give back some of themselves."

The displays are mostly made up of items from personal collections, said decorator Angela James, who put together the Kwanzaa display.

"Preparation takes a long time - you're constantly going over it in the back of your head all year," she said. "I would love to do it again. I'm already working on something for next year."

"Holidays in the Manor House" runs through Sunday at the metropark, 5100 West Central Ave. Hours are from 10 a.m. through 8 p.m. daily. The event is free.

Contact Kate Giammarise at:

kgiammarise@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133.



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