A Gov­ern­ment House Christ­mas re­turns

To­day’s open house will show­case 2 trees, 15 wreaths, 12 poin­set­tias

The Capital - - FRONT PAGE - By Se­lene San Felice ssan­fe­[email protected]

Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s re-elec­tion meant a lot of things in Novem­ber.

For Repub­li­cans, Ho­gan’s ride to suc­cess atop the blue wave was mon­u­men­tal to the party in Mary­land.

For the Gov­ern­ment House staff, Ho­gan’s win was the mo­ment to start pre­par­ing for to­day’s hol­i­day open house.

The pub­lic is in­vited to cel­e­brate the hol­i­days with Ho­gan and first lady Yumi Ho­gan at the house in the cen­ter of An­napo­lis. With a month of prepa­ra­tion lead­ing up to this day, the time has been spent do­ing more than just putting up a cou­ple dec­o­ra­tions and bak­ing a few cook­ies.

Here are the num­bers it took to put on this year’s cel­e­bra­tion:

One hun­dred and fifty years of the Gov­ern­ment House serv­ing as the home of Mary­land gov­er­nors is be­ing cel­e­brated to­day.

Twenty-five dol­lars for the lim­ited edi­tion hol­i­day or­na­ment de­signed by Yumi Ho­gan. This year’s de­sign cel­e­brates the Gov­ern­ment House’s 150th an­niver­sary with the house framed in an ev­er­green wreath. The first lady pulls her in­spi­ra­tion from Mary­land land­marks like the State House and adds a “fes­tive touch” with red rib­bons and holly wreaths and berries.

“I pick poignant sym­bols that truly rep­re­sent Mary­land, or de­tails of the Gov­ern­ment House such as the black-eyed Su­san flow­ers, the large win­dow panes of the Gov­ern­ment House, the iron-wrought front gates or the his­toric wooden State House dome,” she said.

Guests can also buy all of the or­na­ments the first lady has de­signed over the last four years for $75. The or­na­ments are pro­vided by the Foun­da­tion for the Preser­va­tion of Gov­ern­ment House of Mary­land with pro­ceeds sup­port­ing re­pairs, re­mod­el­ing and preser­va­tion of the house. A free Mary­land flag or­na­ment for the an­niver­sary will also be given to guests.

Thirty years that Bar­bara Har­wardTroska has served Gov­ern­ment House as as­sis­tant res­i­dence man­ager, mak­ing sure ev­ery bulb, or­na­ment and piece of green­ery is ex­actly where it should be.

She spends about a week mak­ing sure gar­lands are hung on the stair­case, pal­la­dium win­dows and fire­place man­tles, and swings are hung from the draw­ing-room win­dows. She spends an­other week mak­ing sure the out­side of the house is lit and green with gar­land, fresh wreaths, swags and pot­ted plants.

In the last week or so, Har­ward-Troska gets the trees lighted and dec­o­rated as well as plac­ing fresh flo­rals and poin­set­tias out­side the home.

How much green­ery is that?

Three hun­dred feet of gar­land cover the perime­ter of the home’s fence, 36 swags around the out­side of the house, 15 live wreaths, 12 poin­set­tias and the stars: Two Fraser fir trees with pre­cisely placed or­na­ments.

An or­nate 12-foot-by-6-foot tree is the first thing guests will see as they step into the house and a 13-foot-by-5½-foot tree in the con­ser­va­tory is dec­o­rated with snow­men for a more whim­si­cal theme.

Ten thou­sand cook­ies have been baked for the open house in 15 va­ri­eties. This does not in­clude the brown­ies, cheese­cake bars and pe­can bars also made fresh for the event by the three house chefs.

“Our bak­ing starts early De­cem­ber and you know it’s the Christ­mas sea­son when you smell the first batch bak­ing,” ex­ec­u­tive chef Charles “Buz” Por­ciello said.

Sixty gal­lons of ap­ple cider from Lohr’s Or­chard in Churchville go into the hot was­sail guests will wash their cook­ies down with.

Three string quar­tets will play hol­i­day clas­sics to set the mood. River Hill High School, Du­laney High School and Hunt­ing­town High School string en­sem­bles will ro­tate in hourly shifts.

Last year, 1,133 peo­ple didn’t get the memo that the event was can­celed for snow. They were still greeted by the gover­nor and first lady with a warm wel­come.

While snow isn’t in the fore­cast for this week­end, Har­ward-Troska said the staff will be pre­pared to wel­come guests in any weather.

And if it does snow?

“We’re go­ing to be gra­cious and open the doors again,” she said. “That’s when you know it’s Christ­mas.”

PHO­TOS BY JOSHUA MCKERROW/CAP­I­TAL GAZETTE

The main stair­case of Gov­ern­ment House, the tra­di­tional home of the cur­rently elected gover­nor of Mary­land, is dec­o­rated for the hol­i­day sea­son. It will be open to the pub­lic for its an­nual hol­i­day open house this af­ter­noon.

Wreaths dec­o­rate the spiked fence ring­ing the Gov­ern­ment House, which is cel­e­brat­ing 150 years of serv­ing as the home of Mary­land gov­er­nors to­day.

JOSHUA MCKERROW/CAP­I­TAL GAZETTE

The ex­te­rior of Gov­ern­ment House, tra­di­tional home of the gover­nor of Mary­land, has been made fes­tive ahead of to­day’s open house.

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