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Holidays at the Manor House goes virtual Dec. 5-13

From the Lolli-pop Forest to the Ugly Sweater Room, every inch of the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark sparkles with holiday cheer.
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 8:14 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - There’s no place like home for the holidays. There’s also no place like the Manor House. It’s a free tradition at Wildwood Metropark. Once again, all 30,000 square feet will be decked out in garland in lights.

During this most unusual of years, families won’t be able to walk through the stately mansion in person. However, you’ll still be able to experience the charming holiday tradition.

From the Lolli-pop Forest to the Ugly Sweater Room, every inch of the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark sparkles with holiday cheer.

“For 45 years, volunteers have decorated the Manor House as a gift to the community,” said Scott Carpenter, Metroparks spokesman.

With nutcrackers standing sentry, the former residence of Champion Spark Plug co-founder Robert Stranahan is once again decked out for the season.

“It’s a tradition that started in the 70′s when taxpayers of Lucas County voted to preserve this property that’s now Wildwood Preserve,” Carpenter said.

It’s a “thank you” that continues to this day, although this year, amid the pandemic, visitors won’t be able to tour the rooms in person.

“This year – to show you how dedicated our volunteers are – they agreed to still decorate top to bottom this 30,000 square foot mansion even though we’re not going to be able to do live tours,” Carpenter said. “We’ll only be able to bring it to people virtually.”

Starting the first week of December, families can log on to the Metroparks website or social media and continue the tradition of visiting the Manor House through a variety of digital content, including videos and photos. Each day a different area will be highlighted along with special performances from local musicians.

“This is your first look at what’s going to show up on your computer screens … Virtual Holidays at the Manor House,” Carpenter said.

Just like the last four decades, the decorating process began nearly a year in advance when decorators submit proposals for displays to a selection committee.

“I marvel at the fact that everything is different every year. No two rooms, no two years are alike,” Carpenter said.

Instead of inviting all volunteers to the Manor House to transform the house over a few days, Metroparks spread teams out over a longer period of time to limit the number of people in the house and ensure social distancing.

“The volunteers are as devoted as ever, and maybe more to bringing some holiday cheer this year,” Carpenter said. “I think a lot of people are feeling that. We might not be able to do the holidays like we normally do, but we’re going to do something. We’re going to make it as cheery as we can.”

For many volunteers, decorating a room at the Manor House for Christmas has become a family tradition.

“There’s a family who decorated a room upstairs, has been doing it the last few years. It’s three generations of women,” Carpenter said. “The Garden Club Forum of Toledo, which has decorated every year for 45 years, some of the same folks, many of the same folks, actually, are still involved.”

“As an event that was born as a thank-you to the community, that motivation continues to this day, and I think it means even more in 2020,” he said.

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