Open House, now in 10th year, still popular with kids, adults looking for fun Saturday

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette Children who attended the Carnegie Museum's annual Christmas Open House were able to decorate their own gingerbread houses, but volunteers had also made edible versions of local landmarks including the bridge and the Quincy mine.

The annual Christmas Open House at the Carnegie Museum was held last Saturday in Houghton along with the Victorian Christmas event in downtown Houghton.

The event has been held for at least the last ten years, said Elise Nelson, the museum’s director.

“We held (the open house with Victorian Christmas) last year, and it was a huge success,” said Nelson.

Nelson is a huge supporter of the Victorian Christmas because of the historical theme but also because of its familiar nature.

“It reminds me of going to the city to look at the window displays in department stores,” said Nelson.

The main event at the Christmas Open House was the decoration of gingerbread houses. The houses were then entered into a “competition,” though all entries won awards including awards such as “use of the most candy.”

The components of the houses were made ahead of time by a workshop attended by some twenty volunteers. In addition to the houses to be decorated, volunteers made gingerbread versions of local landmarks including the lift-bridge and the Quincy Mine.

Decorating gingerbread houses was initially selected as the main activity for the open house because it is a festive but secular holiday tradition.

“It’s also in keeping with the Victorian theme,” said Nelson. “It’s old and traditional.”

There were also other activities for the children, including a playhouse, a wooden train set, pictures with Santa, and the reading of holiday stories by volunteer Chris Alquist. Alquist is at many community events and is a big supporter of the museum.

“I love the magic of all of this,” said Alquist. “I have a feeling I’ve been involved with this event since the beginning.” Alquist came in costume wearing a red, hooped dress and a knit pink shawl. While she said that her costume was not warm enough to be involved in this year’s Victorian Christmas event, she had a friend who offered to loan her a period-appropriate coat and muff for next year.

The museum was nearly packed for much of the event. Many of the families had attended previous years but some were at the event for the first time.

“This is our first year here,” said Mr. Lalit, who was at the event with his children.

“Their teacher informed us of the event,” said Lalit, who also planned to attend the Victorian Christmas Event and tree lighting later in the day.

Children and adults alike were also able to have refreshments and listen to live Christmas music performed by a string quartet.

The Carnegie Museum may not always be decorated for Christmas but it is always open to the public. The museum is located at 105 Huron St. In Houghton and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

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