The Star-Herald

Historical society to mark fifth Victorian Christmas

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle Historical Society’s fifth annual Victorian holiday celebration aims to offer a little magic while keeping participants safe in a time of pandemic.

Victorian Christmas at the Estey will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11, and Saturday, Dec. 12, at the 1875 Vera Estey House at 16 Third St. 

“For me, Christmas has always been a magical time of year.  This year, we all need some magic in our lives,” said Kim Smith, society secretary/treasurer. “So, for 2020, Presque Isle Historical Society is truly trying to make its Victorian Christmas event even more magical. And, of course, we must balance that with the health and safety of our volunteers and attendees, so it will look slightly different this year.”

Tickets are $10 per person at the door.  To ensure guest safety, the tours will be led by a guide and there will be no costumed interpreters in the rooms.  Face coverings and social distancing will be required.  In addition, indoor event number limits will be followed. 

Visitors will still enjoy Wassail, a hot cider punch; live music; a sampling of sugar plums; and a taste of peppermint pig, the only Victorian Christmas tradition originating in the U.S.  

Each year, there is a new exhibit in the middle parlor.  This year’s exhibit is on “The Inventions of the Victorian Era,” sponsored by Maine Humanities Council, Smith said. With this exhibit, visitors will also sample Jelly Babies, a sugary confection from the 1800s made popular again by the popular TV series, “Dr. Who.”

As in years past, the society will host a pre-event at 1 p.m. at the Aroostook Centre Mall on Dec. 12. The society is partnering with Wintergreen Arts to make that day extra special.  

At 1 p.m., visitors may join the society for a presentation on the Christmas traditions observed today that originated in the Victorian era, a “make and keep” Victorian Christmas ornament session, and a special reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Emmy Award winning Broadway actor and playwright, Presque Isle native John Cariani, who will join by video.  

Tickets for this event are available at the door.  The afternoon session is followed by Wintergreen Art’s Christmas event and culminates with the society’s last evening of Victorian Christmas at the Estey.  

In keeping with the Victorian Christmas traditions at the house, each room in the small, two-story Victorian era house will be adorned with handmade Victorian-era-inspired decorations and live florals, including a life-size evergreen gown.  Children of all ages can also participate in a scavenger hunt based on “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  

Presque Isle resident Lyndsey Maynard, who has attended the event every year for the last few years with her family, said, “Christmas just isn’t Christmas for me without going to Victorian Christmas at the Estey.” 

For more information on its programs or to make a tax deductible contribution, visit them on the web at www.pihistory.org.

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