It’s the Most ‘Creative’ Time of Year …

The holiday season is a special time at Oglebay Institute, and staff members have put together a schedule of activities designed to spread holiday cheer and bring the community together to celebrate this festive season in creative ways.

One of the signature events in the Oglebay Institute holiday line-up is the decorating event, “Holidays at the Mansion.” The historic Mansion Museum in Oglebay Park has been decorated lavishly for the holidays and can be toured now through Sunday, Jan. 6. In addition to the annual decorating event, OI presents the Holiday Art Show and Sale, performances of “The Nutcracker” ballet, holiday art camps, community carol singing and other activities.

“Holidays at the Mansion is probably the holiday event most associated with Oglebay Institute because it’s been a tradition since 1973, hosting more than 16,000 visitors annually,” Misty Klug, director of marketing, said.

“The holiday season is a great time to tour this historic home in all its grandeur.”

Area designers and businesses donate their time and talent to transform the mansion into a celebration of the season. The mansion’s 13 period rooms, plus hallways and staircases, are trimmed for the holidays around an overall theme. This year’s theme is “The Spirit of Childhood,” and decorators are free to interpret what that theme means to them, Klug explained.

“The oval parlor is interpreted as ‘A Frosted Childhood Dream’ and features ‘old man winter’ blowing in a winter wonderland. The library is described as ‘Toyland-Toyland-Little Girl and Boy Land’ and incorporates vintage toys and books into the decor. Dr. Seuss’ classic The Grinch was the inspiration for Mr. Oglebay’s office. Whether they were inspired by toys, holiday stories and songs, childhood memories or even the weather, the decorators have done a fantastic job.”

Along with touring the period rooms, visitors will have access to the mansion’s Sauder Gallery, where they can view “Toys from Wheeling Childhood,” a family-friendly exhibit that examines the playthings that have entertained generations past. The interesting display of toys ranges from the Victorian time period, 1870s, to the baby boomer time period of the 1950s and 1960s.

Holidays at the Mansion 2012 is sponsored through the support of Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration. Decorating teams include Chris Hudson, Maren Presutti and Michelle Bole of Design Studio; Dawn Kozusnik of Bethani’s Bouquets; Patricia Walther and Barbara Ruben; Kristin Irwin and Katrina Mosman; Peggy McCulley of Mary Dorcas Washington Questers; Michelle Basil of Custom Painting by Shell; Heather McClure; David Miller and Peter Junkersfeld; Yvonne Jacobs of Elm Grove Flowers; Sissy D’Cagna and Jean Dougherty of Sissy’s Country Corner; Megan Wagner and Danielle Hinkle of Crafts 2000; Nikki Lenz of Nicky’s Garden Center; Brad Riser of Masterpieces of Old Town and Scott Klinkoski and Dick Taylor.

Other holiday events at OI include:

Holiday Art Show & Sale

Begun in 2007, Oglebay Institute’s Holiday Art Show and Sale is quickly becoming a tradition among holiday shoppers, Klug said.

“The show started as a way to showcase the talent of regional artisans, provide them with a venue to sell their handcrafted items and to give area residents a refreshing alternative to traditional retail shopping to purchase unique gifts for the holidays,” she commented. “It also is way to keep holiday shopping dollars in our local economy. Sales continue to increase each year. We are thrilled that the community has embraced it.”

Because of the success of the show, it has expanded to two Wheeling locations: Stifel Fine Arts Center, 1330 National Road, and Schrader Environmental Education Center in Oglebay Park.

Klug said more than 50 artists are participating in the show this year and different vendors and items are featured at each location. Items include everything from paintings, pottery, stained glass and photography to jewelry, purses, scarves and gourmet goodies.

Klug added that it’s not only the selection that attracts shoppers to the Holiday Art Show and Sale but also the atmosphere.

“It’s an enjoyable experience. Guests enjoy walking through each of these beautiful facilities admiring the architecture and holiday decorations, talking with the customer service staff,” she said.

Sponsored by United Bank of West Virginia and Jackson Kelly PLLC, the Holiday Art Show and Sale continues through Friday, Dec. 28. Admission at both locations is free. Items can be purchased and taken home the same day.

“The Nutcracker”

Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance contributes to the holiday festivities by staging several productions of beloved holiday classic “The Nutcracker” at two Wheeling venues.

Performances take place at the Mansion Museum at 3 p.m. today, Dec. 2; Sunday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 16. Each show includes tea and photos with the cast. An opportunity to tour “Holidays at the Mansion” and “Toys from Wheeling Childhood” is included with the admission price.

“The Nutcracker” will be performed at Towngate Theatre, 2118 Market St., Wheeling, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26.

Holiday Art Camp and Paint Your Own Pottery

In addition to year-round youth visual arts classes, OI offers special opportunities for children to express their creativity by making holiday art projects, which they can display in their homes or give as gifts.

Holiday Art Camp takes place at Stifel Fine Arts Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, and is available for children in grades 1-4 and 5 8. Reservations are required by calling 304-242-7700.

Paint Your Own Pottery is available at Schrader Environmental Education Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, now through Thursday, Dec. 20. Children and adults can choose from several different holiday-inspired pottery pieces to glaze. Pieces must be left overnight and picked up the next morning. No reservations are necessary for this program.

Caroling at the Mansion

A festive evening filled with old-fashioned holiday cheer takes place at the community carol sing outside the Mansion Museum from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14.

Klug said individuals, families and community groups are encouraged to participate. The event is free and open to people of all ages. “All you need to do is be there, dress warmly and sing along. Bring your children and grandchildren, friends and neighbors,” she said.

Carolers will gather on the front porch of the Mansion Museum and sing a lively mix of traditional holiday tunes and some modern-day favorites. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served.

Winter Activities at Schrader Center

Schrader Center offers many activities that allow families to explore the natural world despite the cold temperatures outdoors.

The center has native snakes, turtles and fish that children can see and touch. Another popular activity is an interactive video game that features a trek in Oglebay’s forest through the eyes of salamander, and even includes a boss fight with a snake.

On the first Saturday of each month from 1noon to 4 p.m., families can discover more about the natural world by participating in the scavenger hunts that are free to all ages. The children’s playroom is always open and filled with puppets, books, puzzles and games that are nature-focused.

For the littlest naturalists, programs like Preschool Days and Budding Naturalists every other Friday teach children to act in a caring and responsible way toward their environment, themselves and others with hands-on educational activities.

Klug said a complete listing of holiday happenings and winter activities at Oglebay Institute is available on the organization’s website at Customer service representatives can be reached by calling 304-242-7700 and are available to assist patrons and answer questions.