MILLVILLE - Although the calendar still reads October, volunteers at the Wilbur Wright Birthplace & Museum are making their lists and checking them twice as they set about uniquely decorating each of the 50 or so Christmas trees for the annual Christmas walk. Not only that, but they turn all of the grounds, including the museum and replica Wright house, into a winter wonderland.
The walk is set for 4-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 15-16 with a soup supper available at $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12. The meal features chili or vegetable soup, crackers, cornbread, applesauce, beverage and dessert. Hot dogs are also available. Also, the reproduction general store will have for sale homemade candies, breads, cookies and other baked goods.
While the event is always over before the holiday rush following Thanksgiving, the timing works well for the Birthplace volunteers and the public responds well with attendance. Says board member Sara Denney, "People get so busy it just kind of jump starts Christmas."
Organizing the walk starts with getting sponsors for the 50 or so trees that fill the museum. Businessess, groups or individuals are encouraged to sponsor trees. If they decorate the sponsored tree themselves, cost is $25. If Birthplace volunteers decorate it, cost to the sponsor is $50. Each option ncludes a sponsorship sign. Sponsors are permitted to come up with a theme, either way.
This year's overall walk theme is "Christmas Traditions."
Silver Bells and Sandy Beaches
Each tree carries its own unique theme which can range from color - such as all-silver-toned decorations on a silver tree - to the whimsical - such as a white tree simply adorned with black ornament "buttons" and a snowman's head as a topper - to those containing ornaments like one with reindeer; another with Hawaiian or beach decor; to an all-angel tree, one dripping in candy ornaments and garlands, and many surprises that leave Christmas-tree fans ready to head home and get busy.
Denney says public reaction to the walk is positive. "They love it," she says. "They just think it's really, really pretty."
There's a corner where Santa Claus will visit with children of all ages. Even the smokehouse gets a tree. This year, gift-shop and grounds manager Thornton McKay adorned the tree there in patriotic red, white and blue. Inside the Birthplace replica house, interpreters will be on hand to talk about the time that Wilbur would have lived on the site.
The annual event is the Birthplace's largest fundraiser of the year.
McKay recommends the walk. "It gives people a chance to get in touch with the history of the Wrights and Christmas. It's just a good, clean, wholesome, fun event."
Says Denney, "It's just a fun time to get excited about Christmas. No place I know real close has anything like this and it's something everybody ought to see."