Linda Espy's art interest, besides the beautiful Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan dolls donated to our 2010 auction, has also developed into a passion for Victorian Christmas history. She wants everyone in Summerville, Ga. and surrounding communities to enjoy this special historical Christmas event. She wants to include everyone – yes, that means individuals with severe vision loss and other physical challenges, too.
Four years ago, Espy started a volunteer group in Summerville that decorates downtown store windows at Christmas (from Thanksgiving through Christmas), with life-size figures from the Victorian era, during which our town was formed. The 18 scenes include 35 handmade and sculpted figures depicting historical events related to Christmas. Scenes include Victorian Welcome Santa; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert introducing the tradition of the Christmas tree to England; Charles Dickens writing "A Christmas Carol;" Tiny Tim and Scrooge; poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writing the words for the carol, "I Heard the Bells"; a working carousel with hand-carved and painted toy horses; Civil War soldiers in a camp; Victorian Santa in an antique sleigh; and a scene from "The Night Before Christmas"; a toy shop; a sweet shop; African-American family quilted Nativity scene; a moving toy train with onlookers; Victorian Santa with first Christmas cards; a family singing Christmas carols, and more, with new scenes being added each year.
Two years ago, we started a walking tour of the windows, with Victorian costumed guides at each window to explain the historical significance, and various performers on the courthouse steps. This year we are happy to announce that, thanks to the efforts of Marsha Farrow, we'll be adding a handicapped accessible tour. The original walking tour date is Sunday, Dec. 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. (rain date is Dec. 11). The accessible tour date will be Saturday, Dec. 11 and Sunday, Dec. 12 from 2-4 p.m. The tours and displays are free.
--- Marsha Farrow
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