Christmas season kicks off at Blennerhassett Museum

PARKERSBURG – Visitors from throughout the community came Sunday to honor the cultures of the world and to kick off the Christmas season at the Blennerhassett Museum’s annual Trees of Our Heritage event and exhibit opening.

The museum, located at 137 Juliana St. in downtown Parkersburg, was adorned with decorated trees reflecting the cultures of numerous countries as well as the United States and West Virginia specifically, said Pam Salisbury, event coordinator for Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park.

“Trees of Our Heritage is a display of trees that are decorated and represent countries from around the world,” she said.

Among those were trees representing a number of African nations, the Caribbean Islands, England, Germany, France, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, Canada, China, Sweden and Japan.

“We have 30 trees up this year,” Salisbury said. “We added some new ones, including Australia, Romania, Italy, Ecuador and India.

“We also have some themed trees relating to America and West Virginia also.”

There were also a number of special theme trees representing the Victorian, colonial and pioneer eras as well as The Spirit of Christmas.

The exhibit, which features the decorated Christmas trees and other culture-centric exhibits, is sponsored by the museum and the Friends of Blennerhassett. It helps kick off the holiday season for many in the area, organizers said.

Heather Herrmann, of Williamstown, came with her family Sunday to the exhibit opening at the museum.

“I just enjoy Christmas,” she said. “I have never been down here to the museum, so I wanted to come and see everything.

“I love it. I really like history,” Hermann said of her visit to the museum.

David and Jane Chafin, of Parkersburg, came to see the trees, what people have done in decorating and to get ideas as they gear up for their own holiday season.

“We are a little fanatical about Christmas,” David Chafin said.

“They are lovely,” Jane Chafin added. “This is nice.”

Fred and Donna Coleman, of Parkersburg, come every year to the Trees of Our Heritage event.

“We enjoy supporting the Friends of the Blennerhassett,” Donna Coleman said. “We really enjoy the festival of the trees.”

There is a lot of variety and creativity in the decorating, she said.

“Every year there is something that is a little bit different,” Donna Coleman said. “There is always some unique twist and I think people are always trying to up the ante.”

Fred Coleman agreed and added that since it was rainy throughout the area Sunday, the museum was a good place to be.

“It is a bit of a rainy day, but I think this event is one of the nicest events they have all year,” he said. “I love the trees and they always put out a nice spread of food.”

The Colemans have been supporters of the museum for years as Fred’s mother, Katherine, has had a quilt on display in the museum.

“We like the museum,” Fred Coleman said. “We have always been a fan and we have always brought our relatives down to see the quilt (which has been put away for the time being). I just think it is a great museum.”

Food was provided by the Friends of Blennerhassett. Scott Cain played the dulcimer, the Julianna Trio performed and period dancing was done by the Blennerhassett Dancers.

The exhibit will run through Dec 22.

The museum and its gift shop are open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. During November and December, the regular museum admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.

Organizers hope people will get a sense of where their own families come from as well as ringing in the holiday season for themselves and their families, Salisbury said of the Christmas tree exhibit.

“We hope they get a feel for roots of where their ancestry comes and we hope the trees get them in the holiday mood for the upcoming Christmas season,” she said. “It also gives people a chance to go through the museum and look at the local history as well that they may want to come back and bring someone with them to share.”