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Festival of Lights to begin in Mt. Pleasant

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 9:05 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Journal
Lisa Cole of Mt. Pleasant adjusts the Christmas tree she prepared and donated for display during the 23rd annual DAR Festival of Lights to be held starting Saturday at the Samuel Warden Mansion in Mt. Pleasant in a photograph taken Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. Kelly Vernon | Mt. Pleasant Journal
Mt. Pleasant Journal
The Samuel Warden Mansion in Mt. Pleasant will once again be home to the DAR Festival of Lights beginning Saturday. The event is in its 23rd year. Kelly Vernon | Mt. Pleasant Journal

Each year, the Festival of Lights has drawn a crowd to the Samuel Warden Mansion in Mt. Pleasant, said Rosalind Ashmun, a member of the event's organizer, the Braddock Trail Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

As visitors step inside the 126-year-old building along Church Street, a world of holiday wonder envelopes them replete with more than 40 twinkling Christmas trees and festively decorated hallways and fireplaces, Ashmun said.

The 23rd annual installment of the event begins Saturday.

Once again, the crowds are expected to return.

“We are hoping to break the 1,000-visitor mark this year,” Ashmun said.

With a stockpiled variety of vivid decorations collected each year since the inaugural Festival of Lights held in 1989, the style of decor has remained unique annually, Ashmun said.

Preparing for the event requires the work of numerous volunteers, she added.

Beginning in early October, they work tirelessly to clean the mansion's many rooms to prepare them to house tree displays, she said.

Soon, the donated trees are placed throughout.

“The event expands every year,” said Fran Vas, the chapter's corresponding secretary.

More than 900 adults, with children in tow, visited the Festival of Lights last year to mark the largest attendance in the event's history, Ashmun said.

Visitors traveled from as far away as Philadelphia to view the mansion in its most festive state, she added.

Chapter members, along with the general public, can donate trees for display each year, though there is only room to display a maximum of 50, Ashmun said.

This year, Lisa Cole of Mt. Pleasant created a tree themed “Winter Bird Paradise.”

It was Cole's first donation to the event, but she said she plans to decorate a tree for donation each year going forward.

“I am already thinking of a theme for next year's tree,” said Cole, whose grandmother, Peg Hunter, is a chapter member.

Cole's uncle, Harry Hunter, actually inspired her to decorate a tree this year, as he donates one each year, she said.

In addition, he also volunteers his time to prepare the house for the event and he is responsible for the outdoor preparations around the door this year.

Event visitors will be able to vote for their favorite tree and purchase one of the trees, as well.

Daily door prize drawings will be held and refreshments will be available.

The raffle room will be located in a larger room of the mansion this year to accommodate the number of available prizes.

“We are hoping for nice weather, although it is more nostalgic with snow on the ground,” Ashmun said.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or