Good grief it’s still a month to Halloween and here I am writing about Christmas. If I just happened upon this missive I’d probably hit delete, but I hope you don’t.
The Victorian Christmas Stroll is the Henry Plant Museum’s largest fundraising event. This year we are celebrating our 39th year and man oh man what a year it’s been. We’ve had to pivot and swivel constantly for months. Both my hands and nerves are raw. All of us here are determined to keep our beautiful tradition alive and do it safely. So I hope you’ll keep reading this shameless promotion and maybe even learn a little about how it all comes together.
Like most museums, closing in March really hit hard. It’s not like we sell a product on Amazon or have a take-out with Uber-eats. We maintain and share a cultural heritage that is unique to Central Florida and we want to share it with you. Even in the best of times that’s not a particularly easy thing to do but this year it’s been extra spicy.
Victorians loved the Christmas holiday and the magic of it all – so do we and because of that we take special pride in trying to make everything as authentic to the period as possible. In a typical year, planning for the Stroll begins in late spring with lots of staff meetings and impromptu gatherings that continue all summer and fall until the day the doors fly open in December. Every year is unique, rooms have themes, loans are secured, we fact check for accuracy and make sure stockings are hung and ribbons tied. The staff does it all and collaborates beautifully. We become designers, decorators, builders, crafters, electricians and model train engineers and then we rush to polish and fluff so we can open the doors to host a month-long party. YAY!
This year, late spring brought the “thrill” of our first Zoom meetings. We continue having remote gatherings as we discuss how to keep visitors engaged as well as socially distanced and safe. The physical nature of bringing all of this together has always been daunting – this year will certainly be no exception. There will be timed entry with a limit on the number of visitors per time slot along with some amazing virtual experiences. While our planning might bring changes the overall tradition will continue.
You might enjoy viewing some of our behind the scene videos from previous installations. One I recommend is “Dogs Eye Pre-View,” or you can see a compilation of several installation videos here.
This cultural treasure is not going anywhere, it’s weathered pandemics and Yellow Fever and certainly no shortage of elections either. We’re here working to continue making our traditions available for you.
And as to my shameless promotion – well here it is…
We would love to see you.
Because really, we need you!
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.
Thank you and stay healthy!